Archive for the ‘Luke 9’ Tag

Devotion for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year D)   1 comment


Above:  Parable of the Wicked Servant, by Domenico Fetti

Image in the Public Domain

Respecting the Image of God in Others

MAY 14, 2023


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 15:1-18 or 19:15-21

Psalm 129

Matthew 18:1-14 (15-20) or Luke 9:46-50; 17:1-4

2 Corinthians 9:1-15


The reading for this Sunday, taken together, proclaim the mandate of economic and legal justice, condemn lying in court, command forgiving penitents, order valuing the powerless and the vulnerable, and extol the virtues of generosity of spirit and of giving.  On the other hand, we read a prayer for God to destroy Israel’s enemies and a permission slip to dun foreigners.  What are we supposed to make of all this?

First I call attention to the presence of both collective and individual sins and virtues.  My Western culture, steeped in individualism, understands individual sins better than collective and institutional ones.  I know that, as a matter of history, many professing Christians have obsessed over personal peccadilloes to the exclusion or minimizing of societal sins.

My second point is the value of foreigners who bear the image of God.  Focusing just on the Hebrew Bible for a few minutes, I recall certain passages that depict some goyim favorably:  Rahab the prostitute (Joshua 2:1-24 and 6:17-25), Ruth (Ruth 1-4), and Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19).  And, of course, as one turns to the New Testament, one should think of the controversy regarding St. Paul the Apostle’s mission to the Gentiles.

Finally, forgiveness can be difficult, but it is the best policy.  According to a rule common among Jews at the time of Jesus, one was perfect if one forgave three times daily.  As we read in the Gospel readings, Jesus more than doubled that number, increasing it to seven.  (He affirmed spiritual challenges.)  Even if forgiving someone does not affect that person it changes for the better the one who forgives.  We also read in Matthew 7:1-5 that the standard we apply to others will be the standard God applies to us.  One might also consult Matthew 18:23-34, the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.

I understand the desire for God to smite one’s foes.  I have prayed for such results.  I have also learned that praying for their repentance–for their benefit and that of others–is a better way to proceed.  Even our foes bear the image of God, after all.  God loves them too, correct?










Devotion for Saturday Before Pentecost Sunday, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  Elijah and the Chariot of Fire

Image in the Public Domain

Elijah and John the Baptist

JUNE 4, 2022


The Collect:

God our creator, the resurrection of your Son offers life to all the peoples of the earth.

By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love,

empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 36


The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 2:1-15a

Psalm 104:23-34, 35b

Luke 1:5-17


May the glory of the LORD endure for ever;

may the LORD rejoice in all his works.

–Psalm 104:32, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Elijah was a great prophet of God.  He departed this earth in 2 Kings 2:1-15a, not having died.  Expectations that he would return to prepare for the coming of the Messiah circulated for centuries.  In Luke 9, for example, some speculated that Jesus was the returned Elijah.  No, the chapter insisted, Jesus was greater than Elijah.  St. John the Baptist fulfilled Elijah’s function (Matthew 17:12-13) and Jesus was the Messiah.  Both Elijah and St. John the Baptist ran afoul of officialdom for the sake of righteousness.

The glory of the LORD endures forever.  It would do so even without the efforts of many faithful people, but such efforts are certainly laudable.  They are good works related to active faith in God.  Grace is free yet not cheap, for it makes demands on its recipients.  Sometimes the cost is one’s life.

Just as St. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and, according to tradition, Elijah pointed to the Messiah, may each of us follow Christ, lead others to him, and seek his glory, not our own.








Devotion for Wednesday After the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Crucifix III July 15, 2014

Above:  One of My Crucifixes, July 15, 2014

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The Glory of the Lord, Part IV

JUNE 1, 2022


The Collect:

O God, form the minds of your faithful people into one will.

Make us love what you command and desire what you promise,

that, amid all changes of this world, our hearts

may be fixed where true joy is found,

Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 35


The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 3:12-21

Psalm 29

Luke 9:18-27


The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;

the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.

–Psalm 29:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Ezekiel, having received his prophetic commission from God, sat stunned for seven days.  He probably needed that time to digest what had just occurred.

A major theme in Luke 9 is the identity of Jesus.  Herod Antipas (reigned 4 B.C.E.-39 C.E.) wonders who Jesus might be (verses 7-9).  The Roman client ruler, who had already ordered the execution of St. John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12), so who could Jesus be?  Some even claimed to Jesus was Elijah, returned to the earth to prepare the way for the Messiah/Son of Man.  The chapter refutes that claim, for the Feeding of the Five Thousand men plus uncounted women and children was greater than the feeding of a multitude (2 Kings 4:43-44) by Elisha, Elijah’s protege.  Furthermore, Elijah (representing the prophets) stands with Jesus at the Transfiguration (verses 28-36).  St. Simon Peter grasps that Jesus is actually the Messiah (verse 20).  Yet, Jesus tells his Apostles, following him entails taking up one’s cross.

As I have written in this miniseries of four posts, the Presence/glory of God was evident in the acts of God, including in nature and human events.  Jesus of Nazareth was the physical manifestation of the divine Presence/glory in human flesh.  The Gospel of John, not containing an account of the Transfiguration, interpreted Christ’s deeds and resurrection as evidence of the Presence/glory of God.  The Gospel of Luke depicted that Presence/glory via an account of the Transfiguration, set shortly before 9:51, when Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem–to die yet not to remain dead for long.

I try to imagine the scene in Luke 9:18-27 as if I had been present:

I heard Peter identify Jesus as the Messiah of God and think, “Jesus is the Messiah, but what does that mean?” I  After all, I know of competing interpretations of Messiahship.  The Master answered my unspoken question immediately by identifying himself as the Son of Man–an apocalyptic figure from the Book of Daniel.  Furthermore, he said that he will die then rise from the dead a few days later.  As if that were not enough, he ordered us to follow him, even to take up a cross, literal or metaphorical.

I must take time to consider these words.  These are difficult sayings.  Understanding them fully will require the passage of time.  When was the last time a dead person returned to life?  And do I really want to take up a cross, literal or metaphorical?  I used to lead a quiet life as a fisherman.  What have I gotten myself into?  Nevertheless, I will keep walking with Jesus.










Devotion for Wednesday After the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Mosaic, Church of the Multiplication

Above:  Mosaic, Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Israel

Image in the Public Domain

God Cares, Part III

MARCH 30, 2022


The Collect:

God of compassion, you welcome the wayward,

and you embrace us all with your mercy.

By our baptism clothe us with garments of your grace,

and feed us at the table of your love,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 28


The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 4:1-7

Psalm 53

Luke 9:10-17


The benighted man thinks,

“God does not care.”

–Psalm 53:2, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)


The theme of God caring has been present in the previous two posts.  That motif recurs here also.

This time we read of God caring about practical needs.  Food is among the most basic necessities of life.  A human body, deprived of food for too long, dies of starvation.  The extravagance of God in the feeding of the five thousand men (plus uncounted women and children) in Luke 9 and the oil refills in 2 Kings 4 point to divine mercy.  The widow had an abundant supply of oil to sell for funds to pay her debts and therefore save her children from slavery.  The rest of the oil was for cooking purposes at her home.  The crowd in Luke 9 ate well and left enough food to fill twelve baskets.

Questions of historicity interest me, but I conclude that, in these cases, pursuing them would lead me away from the main points of these accounts.  I am writing a devotion, not a dry academic text.  The Benedictine practice of lectio divino is reading scripture for formation, not information.  One of my spiritual mentors in the 1990s taught me to ask one question when reading a portion of scripture.

What is really going on here?

has been my guiding query germane to the Bible since then.  My answer to it in these cases is that there are always leftovers with divine extravagance.

God cares so much as to provide more than enough for everybody to have enough.  Only human sin, often in institutionalized forms, creates scarcity.  Apart from such sin those who have little will still have enough.  The purpose of this abundance is not that he who dies with the most toys wins, but that all people be able to fulfill their needs, both temporal and spiritual.  Divine extravagance, therefore, comes in both forms.

A complicating factor is the frequent inability or unwillingness to distinguish between needs and wants.  May each of us know the difference, accept the extravagance of God gratefully, apply it properly, and help others as we are able and is best for them.  As we have needs may we receive.  As we can and should donate, may we do so.  All of us depend upon God and each other.  Furthermore, all of us are responsible to and for each other.  May we take care of each other, glorify God, and exploit and oppress no person.






Devotion for the Twenty-Third and Twenty-Fourth Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  The Sin of Nadab and Abihu

Leviticus and Luke Part II:  God Concepts

MAY 1 and 2, 2023


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 9:1-14 (23rd Dayof Easter)

Leviticus 10:1-20 (24th Day of Easter)

Psalm 97 (Morning–23rd Day of Easter)

Psalm 98 (Morning–24th Day of Easter)

Psalms 124 and 115 (Evening–23rd Day of Easter)

Psalms 66 and 116 (Evening–24th Day of Easter)

Luke 9:18-36 (23rd Day of Easter)

Luke 9:37-62 (24th Day of Easter)


My point of reference is that of a modern, liberal, intellectual North American Christian.  God is love, I affirm, and the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate.  So my God concept leads me to ask what Jesus would do.  Hence the God concept in Leviticus 10 is foreign to me.  The sacrifices in Leviticus 9 are likewise alien to me.  Parts of the Letter to the Hebrews played back in my head as I read these chapters from Leviticus.

Although I am a ritualist, I do not attach life or death stakes to performing a certain liturgical act just so.  What, I wonder, did Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, do that was so bad that they died on what was supposed to be a joyous occasion?  I found the following note from the The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004) helpful:

In biblical thought, however, ritual crimes are dire.  Further, the sin of the two brothers was not simply that they went too far in their misguided super-piety.  Rather, they acted in utter disregard for the deity.  God intended that the manifestations of His Presence would ignite the altar fire, marking His acceptance of His peoples’ devotion.  Their intent was for the divine fire to ignite their pans; that is, they were attempting to arrogate control of the deity to themselves.  (page 227)

Trying to control God is one sin; misunderstanding God can lead to others.  Consider Simon Peter, who grasped that Jesus was the Messiah but not what that entailed–suffering for the Messiah.  Then, at the Transfiguration, the Apostle would have institutionalized the event, not distinguishing among Jesus, Moses, or Elijah.  Our expectations and best attempts prove inadequate, do they not?

But, for a God concept, I still prefer Jesus to the Yahweh of Leviticus 10.







Devotion for the Twenty-Second Day of Easter: Fourth Sunday of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  A Vested Jewish Priest

Leviticus and Luke, Part I:  Laying Foundations

APRIL 30, 2023


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Leviticus 8:1-13, 30-36

Psalm 93 (Morning)

Psalms 136 and 117 (Evening)

Luke 9:1-17


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Dedication:


With this post I leave the Book of Exodus behind and move into the Book of Leviticus.  Of that book Professor Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University has said

There is a reason why the Bible remains the all-time best selling book, and it is not the Book of Leviticus.  It is the Gospels.  People want to understand about Jesus.

Jesus and the Gospels, Lecture One, The Teaching Company, 2004

Fortunately, we have plenty of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.

The Book of Leviticus opens where the Book of Exodus ends.  The Tabernacle now functional, complete with the Presence of God, Leviticus Chapters 1-7, as summarized succinctly in 7:37-38, detail

…the rituals of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, with which the LORD charged Moses on Mount Sinai, when He commanded that the Israelites present their offerings to the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

It is not riveting reading.  Then Chapter 8 provides an account of the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests.  The chapter concludes with these words:

And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the LORD had commanded through Moses.

–Leviticus 8:36, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

It is a story about laying foundations.  But do not become too enthusiastic, O reader; bad news awaits us after this chapter.

Jesus and the Apostles (eleven of whom became bishops) laid foundations in Luke 9:17.  This was not the Church yet, but the proclamation of the Gospel was present.  And a food miracle with Eucharistic overtones occurred.  Today, of course, institutions which are heirs of Jesus and the Apostles proclaim the message and offer the Holy Eucharist.

As we–you, O reader, and I–go through our daily lives, what foundations is God laying through us and in us?  I wonder what shape that work will assume and how that work will benefit others and glorify God.  If I am fortunate, I will, in time, receive at least an inkling, so that I may rejoice over more than a vague hope.






Devotion for the Eleventh and Twelfth Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   15 comments

Above:  Christ Rescuing Peter from Drowning

Genesis and Mark, Part XII:  Wonders, Jealousies, Fears, and Violence

FEBRUARY 26 and 27, 2024


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 18:1-15 (11th Day of Lent)

Genesis 21:1-21 (12th Day of Lent)

Psalm 119:73-80 (Morning–11th Day of Lent)

Psalm 34 (Morning–12th Day of Lent)

Psalms 121 and 6 (Evening–11th Day of Lent)

Psalms 25 and 91 (Evening–12th Day of Lent)

Mark 6:14-34 (11th Day of Lent)

Mark 6:35-56 (12th Day of Lent)


Some Related Posts:

Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, Martyr (August 29):




The Feeding of the Five Thousand is a story which all four canonical Gospels tell.  Here are the citations:

  1. Mark 6:30-44
  2. Matthew 14:13-21
  3. Luke 9:10-17
  4. John 6:1-15

There are five thousand men in Mark.  There is no indication of an estimate, such as “about” or “as many as.”  Neither is there any mention of women and children.

Matthew 14:21 tells us of

about five thousand men…, to say nothing of women and children.  (The New Jerusalem Bible)

Luke 9:14 has

about five thousand men.  (The New Jerusalem Bible)

And John 6:10 mentions

as many as five thousand men.  (The New Jerusalem Bible)

So the women and children occur explicitly in the Matthew reading, although the Johannine version implies them.  (I read the text in several translations quite closely and consulted commentaries.) Such details interest me.


Sometimes a lectionary becomes too choppy.  I understand the need to avoid placing too much material on one day.  The Lutheran daily lectionary I am following provides for

two readings of 15-25 verses each….one from the Old Testament, the other from the New Testament.

Lutheran Service Book (2006), page 299

Yet this system divides the passage describing the Feeding of the Five Thousand (men) in Mark into two readings across as many days.  One of my methods in composing these posts is combining days of material as necessary to maintain a certain degree of textual unity, not that I need to defend myself in this matter.  This is a purely procedural notice.

We read today of wonders coexisting with sad news.  Abraham and Sarah become parents in their old age yet expel Hagar and Ishmael, victims in the narrative.  Our Lord heals people, feeds five thousand men with a small amount of food, and walks on water.  Yet Herod Antipas, the man responsible for the death of John the Baptist, wants to meet Jesus.  The wondrous and the unfortunate rub shoulders with each other.

That is the nature of the world, is it not?  The Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth.  His life was at risk before he was born and remained so after his birth.  And the Roman Empire executed him–not for being a nice guy who told people to love their neighbors, by the way.  Authorities perceived him as a thread to their power.  And he was, but not in the way in which zealots would have preferred him to be.

Jealousies and fears arise within us, bringing out the worst of our natures.  Sometimes we project them onto God and convince ourselves that God commands us to expel or execute those who, by their existence, threaten our positions, status, or ego.  May God forgive us, regardless of whether we know what we do.








Second Sunday in Lent, Year C   17 comments

Above:  Celtic Cross Over a Church Door

The Narrow Door

MARCH 13, 2022


Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision,

Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.

But Abram said,

O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?

And Abram said,

You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.

But the word of the LORD came to him,

This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.

He brought him outside and said,

Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.

Then he said to him,

So shall your descendants be.

And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Then he said to him,

I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.

But he said,

O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?

He said to him,

Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.

He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,

To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.

Psalm 27 (Revised English Bible):

The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life;

of whom then should I go in dread?

When evildoers close in on me to devour me,

is my adversaries, my enemies,

who stumble and fall.

Should an army encamp against me,

my heart would have no fear;

if armed men should fall upon me,

even though I would be undismayed.

One thing I ask of the LORD,

it is the one thing I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD

all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of misfortune;

he will conceal me under cover of his tent,

set me high on a rock.

Now my head will be raised high

above my enemy all about me;

so I shall acclaim him in his tent with a sacrifice

and sing a psalm of praise to the LORD.

Hear, LORD, when I cry aloud;

show my favour and answer me.


my heart has said,

seek his presence.

I seek your presence, LORD;

do not hide your face from me,

nor in your anger turn away from your servant,

whose help you have been;

God my saviour, do not reject me or forsake me.

Though my father and my mother forsake me,

the LORD will take me into his care.

Teach me your way, LORD;

do not give me up to the greed of my enemies;

lead me by a level path

to escape the foes who beset me:

liars breathing malice come forward

to give evidence against me.

Well I know that I shall see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and brave,

and put your hope in the LORD.

Philippians 3:17-4:1 (Revised English Bible):

Join together, my friends, in following my example.  You have us for a model; imitate those whose way of life conforms to it.  As I have often told you, and now tell you with tears, there are many whose way of life makes them enemies of the cross of Christ.  They are heading for destruction, they make appetite their god, they take pride in what should bring shame; their minds are set on earthly things.  We, by contrast, are citizens of heaven, and from heaven we expect our deliverer to come, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will transfigure our humble bodies, and give them a form like that of his own glorious body, by that power which enables him to make all things subject to himself.  This, my dear friends, whom I live and long for, my joy and crown, this is what it means to stand firm in the Lord.

Luke 13:22-35 (Revised English Bible):

He [Jesus] continued his journey through towns and villages, teaching as he made his way towards Jerusalem.  Someone asked him,

Sir, are only a few saved?

His answer was:

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door; for I tell you that many will try to enter but will not succeed.

When once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may stand outside and knock and say, “Sir let us in!” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”  Then you will protest, “We used to eat and drink with you, and you taught in our streets.”  But he will repeat, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from.  Out of my sight, all of you, you and your wicked ways!”  There will be wailing and grinding of teeth there, when you see prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves are driven away.  From east and west, from north and south, people will come and take their places at the banquet in the kingdom of God.  Yes, and some are now last who will be first, and some who are first will be last.

At that time a number of  Pharisees came and warned him [Jesus],

Leave this place and be on your way; Herod wants to kill you.

He replied,

Go and tell that fox, “Listen:  today and tomorrow I shall be driving out demons and working cures; However, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is unthinkable for a prophet to meet his death anywhere but in Jerusalem.”

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, city that murders the prophets and stones the messengers sent to her!  How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings; but you would not let me.  Look!  There is your temple, forsaken by God.  I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The Collect:

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:


Hope of the World:

A Prayer for Compassion:

A Prayer to Embrace Love, Empathy, and Compassion, and to Eschew Hatred, Invective, and Willful Ignorance:


Who were the “enemies of the cross” in Philippians?  They could have belonged to more than one camp, including early Gnostics, who thought that matter was evil, so the human body was evil.  So Jesus could not have died on a cross or then risen from the dead, according to Gnostics.  Hence Gnostics were not Christians.  And, since they considered the human body to be evil, some favored starving it.  Others gorged it.

Meanwhile, in Genesis, elderly Abram trusted God’s promise of progeny.

And because he put his trust in the LORD, He reckoned it to his merit.

–Genesis 15:6, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

The Lukan reading requires some textual context.  In Chapter 13:1-21 alone we find the following happening:

  1. Jesus encourages repentance. (1-5)
  2. Jesus tells a parable about giving a non-productive fig tree extra fertilizer and one more chance to avoid destruction. (6-9)
  3. Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath.  He incurs criticism for doing this deed on that day. (10-17)
  4. Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a small mustard seed, which produces a very large weed. (18-19)
  5. Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a small amount of yeast which produces enough to feed 150 people. (20-21)

Then we read about entering by the narrow door.  The Kingdom of God is generous, even weed-like, beyond human control, but the portal to it is narrow.

Who are the excluded?  Among them must be the “enemies of the cross,” those who are materialistic (even if some of them regard matter as evil, ironically).  And I propose that among the excluded are so persnickity about religious matters (such as the Sabbath) that they do not live compassionately.  They have the outward forms yet lack the substance.  God welcomes the repentance of all.  So God does not exclude anyone.  Yet the excluded define themselves as such by not repenting.

As we continue to read we find that our Lord’s life is at risk (31-35).  In the Gospel of Luke’s narrative Jesus had

resolute turned his face towards Jerusalem. (9:51, The New Jerusalem Bible)

So all of Chapter 13 occurs in the shadow of the cross to come.

To pass through a narrow door one must establish priorities.  Some items will never make the cut, for they are too large.  So one must travel lightly through the narrow door.  May we leave behind the bulky furniture of hatred, greed, resentment, prejudice, discrimination, and legalism, among other things.  And may we take compassion with us; it nullifies the items from the preceding sentence.







Second Day of Lent   17 comments

Image Source =

February 15, 2024

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints


Lent should be a holy time.  It is a season with designated readings for each day, according to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts.  So I share the assigned readings and collect for each day with anyone who finds my weblog.  (I created the post for Ash Wednesday in 2009.)  May the shalom of the one God be with you all, and may you take away from this Lent that which God intends for you take away from it.

Pax vobiscum,

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (New Jerusalem Bible):

[Moses said,]

Look, today I am offering you life and prosperity, death and disaster.  If you obey the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I am laying down for you today, if you love Yahweh your God, and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, and his customs, you will live and grow numerous, and Yahweh your God will bless you in the country which you are about to enter and make your own.  Bit if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshiping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live for long in the country which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.  Today, I call heaven and earth to witness against you; I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse.  Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of Yahweh your God, obeying his voice, holding fast to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends the length of time that you stay in the country which Yahweh swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he would give them.

Psalm 1 (New Jerusalem Bible):

How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked

and does not take a stand in the path that sinners tread,

nor a seat in the company with cynics,

but who delights in the law of Yahweh,

and murmurs his law day and night.

Such a one is like a tree planted near streams,

it bears fruit in season and its leaves never wither,

and every project succeeds.

How different the wicked, how different!

Just like chaff blown around by the wind

the wicked will not stand firm at the Judgement

nor sinners in the gathering of the upright.

For Yahweh watches over the path of the upright,

but the path of the wicked is doomed.

Luke 9:18-26 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Now it happened that he [Jesus] was praying alone, and his disciples came to him and he put this question to them,

Who do the crowds say I am?

And they answered,

Some say John the Baptist; others Elijah; others again one of the ancient prophets come back to life.

He said to them,

But you, who do you say I am?

It was Peter who spoke up.

The Christ of God,

he said.  But he [Jesus] gave them strict orders and charged them not to say this to anyone.

He said,

The Son of man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.

Then, speaking to all, he said,

If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, will save it.  What benefit is it to anyone to win the whole world and forfeit or lose his very self? For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of man will be ashamed when he comes in his own glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.

The Collect

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


The reading from Deuteronomy, set in the context of preparations to enter the promised land after a generation of wandering in one wilderness or another, contains both hope and caution.  “Be righteous and prosper in the land,” it says, “or do the opposite and face the consequences.”  But righteousness does not always lead to a happy end, prosperity, and other good times, as generation upon generation of martyrs can testify.  And how many people have suffered fates short of martyrdom for their lived faith?  All of this proves the falseness of Prosperity Theology.  So, when you, O reader, hear or read Prosperity Theology, do not believe it.

As for the rest, the best commentary I can find is a hymn.  I defer to the more artful words.


Words by Charles W. Everest

“Take up your cross,” the Savior said,
“If you would my disciple be;
Forsake the past, and come this day,
And humbly follow after me.”

Take up your cross; let not its weight
Pervade your soul with vain alarm;
His strength shall bear your spirit up,
Sustain your heart, and nerve your arm.

Take up your cross, nor heed the shame,
Nor let your foolish heart rebel;
For you the Lord endured the cross
To save your soul from death and hell.

Take up your cross and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear a golden crown.

Revised on June 12, 2011

Posted October 27, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2024, Episcopal Church Lectionary, February 15

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