A holy life

All Saints’ Day; 1 November 2020; All Saints’, Year A (RCL); Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12.

If you own a red letter edition of the bible, you will notice that the passage we read today from Matthew’s Gospel begins a long block of red text. If you care to explore further, you will discover that there are five such blocks of red text in this Gospel. Matthew has arranged the sayings of Jesus in to five major speeches.

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The challenge of love

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost; 25 October 2020; Proper 25A (RCL)Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46.

All three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) have some version of the Great Commandment (John has a new commandment — love one another as I have loved you). In Mark, a scribe asks Jesus about the greatest commandment and Jesus responds with love of God and neighbor. When the scribe says that Jesus has answered rightly, and that love is more important than all sacrifices, Jesus says that he (the scribe) is not far from the kingdom of God. In Luke, a lawyer asks Jesus what he must to do inherit the life of the ages. Jesus asks him what is written in the law, and the lawyer responds with the Great Commandment, but then wants to justify himself and asks “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus responds with the story of the Samaritan.

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What is God’s?

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost; 18 October 2020; Proper 24A (RCL); Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22.

Modern scholarship has a hard time identifying the Herodians in this passage from Matthew. If they were, as the name implies, a sect that aligned itself with the rule of the Herods, it is unlikely that the Pharisees would make common cause with them. That aside, this challenge story comes after a string of parables clearly directed against the Jerusalem authorities. Whoever they are, Jesus’ interlocutors are trying to paint him seditious.

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Treasure the true

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost; 11 October 2020; Proper 23A (RCL); Exodus 32:1-14; Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23; Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14.

Leave it to Matthew to ruin a perfectly good parable. Luke also has a version of this parable (which means it was found originally in Q – not the same as anon). In Luke’s version, all of the invited guests beg off, so the host told his servants to go out into the streets and lanes and invite anyone they found, so that the feast would not go to waste. And the story ends there.

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