Archive for the ‘Psalm 51’ Tag

Devotion for the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Days of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio

Genesis and Mark, Part XIII: Arguing for Compassionate Deeds

MARCH 16 and 17, 2022


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 22:1-19 (13th Day of Lent)

Genesis 24:1-31 (14th Day of Lent)

Psalm 5 (Morning–13th Day of Lent)

Psalm 38 (Morning–14th Day of Lent)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening–13th Day of Lent)

Psalms 126 and 102 (Evening–14th Day of Lent)

Mark 7:1-23 (13th Day of Lent)

Mark 7:24-37 (14th Day of Lent)


Some Related Posts:

Behind the Lines, a.k.a. Regeneration (1997):



What can I say or write about the near-sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 without repeating myself?  Nothing! I refuse to make apologies for it.  There is no record in Genesis that father and son spoke again after that incident.  They must have had conversations afterward, but Isaac’s relationship to Abraham must not have been the same as before.  How could it have been?  Really, O reader, if you were Isaac, how much would you want to say to your old man after such an incident?

One traditional lesson drawn from Genesis 22 is that God does not desire human sacrifice.  And narrative praises Abraham for his faithfulness.  Really?  But should not Abraham have pleaded for the life of his son?  He begged God to save the lives of strangers in Genesis 18:22-33.  Sometimes we are supposed to argue; sometimes that constitutes passing the test of faithfulness.  The Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 passed the test with flying colors.

Abraham apparently loved his son and sought a wife for him in Genesis 24.  The patriarch was not a villain, but his record as a parent was troublesome.  (What about his treatment of his first son?) But Abraham did take care of his second son–at least after trying to kill him.

Jesus, in Mark 7, presents a great lesson in several parts.

  1. Food does not make one unclean.
  2. Ritual purity–in this case, in the form of the ceremonial washing of pots–is irrelevant.
  3. Being a Gentile or a disabled person ought not to marginalize one.  (People with major disabilities and deformities were impure.  A blind man or a man with crushed genitals or a deformed arm could not serve as priest, according to the Law of Moses.  The Law of Moses did not anticipate the Americans with Disabilities Act.)
  4. No, bad attitudes and resulting sins of commission and/or omission made one unclean.
  5. All foods are clean.  (Mark 7:19)
  6. A Gentile woman impresses Jesus with her faith and debating skills.
  7. But manipulating the Law of Moses and interpretations thereof to the detriment of others does make one unclean.

The standard (once more) is compassion.  Any human tradition which contradicts it is wrong.

To point to such violations from long ago is easy, and does not cost one anything or cause one even the slightest discomfort.  So I invite you, O reader, to look around.  Consider your present reality.  Where are violations (considered respectable and proper) of compassion?  And will you argue with them?  What will that cost you?  What will not arguing with them cost you?








Devotion for the Seventh Day of Lent (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   9 comments

Above:  Noah’s Thank Offering, by Joseph Anton Koch

Genesis and Mark, Part VIII:  Societal Immorality

MARCH 9, 2022


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 8:13-9:17

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening)

Mark 4:1-20


A Related Post:



The sower’s seed needed good soil in which to flourish.  And, as I return to the beginning of the composite Noah’s Ark story, I read that

The earth became corrupt before God;

the earth was filled with lawlessness.

–Genesis 6:11, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Thus the Great Flood followed in the narratives.  And, as today’s Genesis reading begins, so does renewed life on the planet.  But keep reading; the corruption returned almost immediately.

Corruption–societal immorality–is endemic among we human beings.  As a student of history, I point to examples of this.  Slavery was part of the socio-economic and political fabric of the nation from the 1600s, before this was the United States.   The blood Civil War destroyed the damnable Peculiar Institution in the 1860s.  Yet the racism which supported slavery persisted without apology, and many self-professing Christians quoted the Bible to support both slavery and Jim Crow.  The civil rights movement erased much de jure discrimination against African Americans, changing the attitudes of many people yet leaving de facto discrimination in place.  Many of my fellow human beings seek to discriminate against somebody.  These days homophobia is masquerading shamelessly as societal righteousness, but it is still a form of bigotry.

We human beings have a vocation to act toward each other according to the Golden Rule.  We ought to seek the best for each other, not look for ways to oppress each other.  This proposition undergirds my sense of morality, my ethics.  Thus I conclude  that anything else is corruption and immorality.  Here I stand; I can and will do no other.








Devotion for Ash Wednesday (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  Ashen Cross

Genesis and Mark, Part I:  New Beginnings

MARCH 2, 2022


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 1:1-19

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 27 and 51 (Evening)

Mark 1:1-13


A Related Post:



The first (actually second written) myth of creation in Genesis, of which we read a part today, tells of the creation of order from chaos:

When God began to create heaven and earth–the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water….

–Genesis 1:1-2, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Meanwhile, in the Gospel of Mark, the oldest of the canonical Gospels (written probably 67-70 CE), the narrative opens with

The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

–Mark 1:1, The New Jerusalem Bible

Subsequent verses assume certain knowledge.  For example, who was John the Baptist?  And what was his background?  For more details, read parts of Matthew and Luke, Gospels drew from Mark and expanded on it.

It is appropriate to read about new beginning on Ash Wednesday.  This is the first day of Lent, a season of somberness, spiritual self-examination, and preparation for Easter.  In churches we put away flowers and the word “alleluia.”  Lent is an excellent time to strive to cease a bad habit and to learn a good one to replace it.  It is an excellent time to focus on cooperating with God in converting chaos into a proper order.  Certainly each of us needs more internal order and less internal chaos.

And may we remember that Jesus, although new from a human perspective, was actually quite old.  (Read John 1:1-18.)  The form was new; the substance was ancient.  Sometimes God approaches us in new ways.  The message is old but the medium is new or more recent.

One might not restrict these spiritual exercises to Lent alone, of course.  Yet may one not dismiss the importance of the church year.  There is great value in having certain time set apart for different emphases.

May you, O reader, have a holy Lent.  And may God’s blessings on you bless others.  We are made to live in community after all, and what one person does affects others.









Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B   30 comments

Above:  Wheat

Image Source = Photographer2008

Good Friday is Near

MARCH 21, 2021



Jeremiah 31:31-34 (New Revised Standard Version):

The days are surely coming,

says the LORD,

when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt– a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband,

says the LORD.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.


Psalm 51:1-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

2 Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you only have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight.

5 And so you are justified when you speak

and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,

a sinner from my mother’s womb.

7 For behold, you look for truth deep within me,

and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;

wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness,

that the body you have broken may rejoice.

10 Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquities.

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

12 Cast me not away from your presence

and take not your holy Spirit from me.

13 Give me the joy of your saving help again

and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.


Psalm 119:9-16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

9  How shall a young man cleanse his way?

By keeping to your words.

10  With my whole heart I seek you;

let me not stray from your commandments.

11  I treasure your promise in my heart,

that I may not sin against you.

12  Blessed are you, O LORD;

instruct me in your statutes.

13  With my lips will I recite

all the judgments of your mouth.

14  I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees

than in all manner of riches.

15  I will meditate on your commandments

and give attention to your ways.

16  My delight is in your statutes;

I will not forget your word.


Hebrews 5:5-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

You are my Son,

today I have begotten you;

as he says also in another place,

You are a priest forever,

according to the order of Melchizedek.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.


John 12:20-33 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him,

Sir, we wish to see Jesus.

Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them,

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say– “Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven,

I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.

The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said,

An angel has spoken to him.

Jesus answered,

This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A:

Jeremiah 31:

Hebrews 5:


There are, in my tradition, six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.  So chronology, if not the tone of the last two readings, should make plain the fact that Good Friday is relatively close to the Fifth Sunday in Lent.  Palm Sunday is one week away from this Sunday, and the overall tone from the lessons for this Sunday conveys that reality well.

Lent is, of course, preparation for Easter.  It is also, in my tradition, the time when flowers and the word “Alleluia” are forbidden, and simple meals involving soup tend to precede adult midweek religious programs in parishes.  We tone things down during Lent.  Then we become starker on Maundy/Holy Thursday before breaking out flowers and Alleluias at the Easter Vigil or on Easter Sunday morning.

This is a time for great sobriety of spirit.  Christ our Passover is about to be sacrificed for us.  After that is accomplished we may keep the feast.



Twenty-Second Day of Lent   10 comments



Saturday, March 26, 2022

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


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Hosea 6:1-6 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

[People speaking]:

Come, let us turn back to the LORD:

He attached, and He can heal us;

He wounded, and He can bind us up.

In two days He will make us whole again;

On the third day He will raise us up,

And we shall be whole by His favor.

Let us pursue obedience to the LORD,

And we shall become obedient.

His appearance is as sure as daybreak,

And He will come to us like rain,

Like latter rain that refreshes the earth.

[God speaking]:

What can I do for you, Ephraim,

What can I do for you, Judah,

When your goodness is like morning clouds,

Like dew so early gone?

That is why I have hewn down the prophets,

Have slain them with the words of My mouth:

And the day that dawned [brought on] your punishment.

For I desire goodness, not sacrifice;

Obedience to God, rather than burnt offerings.

Psalm 51:16-21 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

Save me from bloodguilt,

O God, God, my deliverer,

that I may sing forth Your beneficence.

O Lord, open my lips,

and let not my mouth declare Your praise.

You do not want me to bring sacrifices;

You do not desire burnt offerings;

True sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit;

God, You will not despise

a contrite and crushed heart.

May it please You to make Zion prosper;

rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will want sacrifices offered in righteousness,

burnt and whole offerings;

then bulls will be offered on Your altar.

Luke 18:9-14 (The New Testament in the Language of the People):

To some people who were confident that they themselves were upright, but who scorned everybody else, He [Jesus] told the following story:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax-collector.  The Pharisee stood and said this self-centered prayer, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector.  I fast two days in the week, I pay a tithe on everything I get.’ But the tax-collector stood at a distance and would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but continued to beat his breast, and say, ‘O God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man, and not the other, went back home forgiven and accepted by God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

The Collect:

O God, you know us to be st in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


The prophet Hosea channeled divine displeasure with the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  Faithlessness would lead to unpleasant consequences, he said.  This day’s reading from that prophet begins with a half-hearted, self-serving plea for deliverance from consequences without expressing remorse for antecedent actions.  The divine response is predictable; God did not accept the plea for deliverance.  The divine standard was goodness and obedience, not ritual sacrifices and self-serving prayers for deliverance.

The reading from Luke is one of Jesus’ more scandalous parables.  Pharisees were part of the religious establishment. As Henry I. Louttit, Jr., formerly the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia (1967-1994), then Bishop of Georgia (1995-2010), said, the Pharisees were the respectable, church-going people of their time.  Tax collectors collected the income the Roman imperial government required plus extra, and kept the excess.  They were tax thieves, and thus despised widely.  The repentant tax thief is the more sympathetic character in the parable.

Among the recurring thoughts in the Bible is this:  God is no respecter of persons or their social status.  Rather, God sees us as we are.  Sometimes this entails perceiving our potential, and raising us to fill that.  And other times the consequence of  the divine gaze upon one is judgment.  The tax collector had no pretensions about himself.  Thus he went home approved by God.

I propose an individual or group activity related to the reading from Luke.  Ask: If Jesus were telling this parable today, what would he say in lieu of Pharisee?  And what would he say in place of tax collector?  Does this approach to the text bring the meaning of the parable more real to you?  And which character is more like you?  Follow the answers where they lead.


Written on February 28, 2010

Posted October 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 26

Tagged with , ,

Seventh Day of Lent   10 comments


Image Source = Cbl62

March 9, 2022

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


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Jonah 3:1-10 (New Revised Standard Version):

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying,

Get up; go to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.

So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.  Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across.  And he cried out,

Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!

And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on a sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.  Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh:

By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything.  They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water.  Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God.  All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands.  Who knows?  God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them and he did not do it.

Psalm 51:10-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Do not case me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation,

and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

For you have no delight in sacrifice;

if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit,

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,

then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;

then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Luke 11:29-32 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the crowds were increasing, he [Jesus] began to say,

This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.  For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation.  The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

The Collect:

Bless us, O God, in this holy season, in which our hearts seek your help and healing; and so purify us by your discipline that we may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


This is not sweet Jesus, Mr. Nice Messiah.  Jesus condemned the focus on the spectacular rather than on repentance.  He had come to draw people to God, and people demanded signs.  In Luke 9:51 he had turned his face toward Jerusalem, literally and figuratively.  Jesus was en route to his immediate destiny, was serious about it, and expected others to be serious, too.  He did not deal diplomatically with nonsense or abide fools easily.  If he seems harsh, consider the literary context.  The man had his excellent reasons.

In his rebuke of signs-seekers Jesus referenced the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon, and the Book of Jonah, one of the great works of ancient satire.  The fictitious Jonah was a reluctant prophet who obeyed God only after disobeying him.  Jonah preached repentance to the vast city of Nineveh, to stave off divine judgment.  When he succeeded, Jonah was angry.  He did not understand that God is the lord of both judgment and mercy.

The Queen of Sheba and the residents of Nineveh were gentiles who responded favorably to God and God’s messengers.  In this respect they were unlike many of Jesus’ fellow Jews the third decade of the Common Era in Judea.  Many of the chosen people rejected Jesus, and it caused much frustration.

Unfortunately, much lingering resentment and misunderstanding between Christians and Jews feeds the sin of anti-Semitism.

The Jewish religious authorities of Jesus’ day were guardians of their traditions, which they considered sacred.  Jesus challenged them, and they responded (generally) defensively, as one might expect, given human nature.  Today institutionalized Christianity comes with its schools of traditions of varying ages and degrees of complexity.  And what if we are gravely mistaken, just as those attached to the Second Temple were?  Can we bear the thought?  Will we continue to wed ourselves to outmoded traditions rather than seek to emulate Jesus?

Consider another hypothetical scenario.  What if we Christians, generally speaking, possess an unduly narrow vision of divine mercy?  We benefit from this mercy; do we recognize how far it extends?  Do we condemn other friends of God we do not know are friends of God?  Do we fail to recognize potential friends of God who need merely to repent?  Do we write people off when we should see them as God sees them?  Do we not see what people can become?  My model here is Jesus, who recognized great potential in his Apostles, eleven of whom overcame their weaknesses in time to become great leaders of early Christianity.  In the Gospels the Apostles are mostly obtuse and occasionally petty.  Yet witness what they became.

I offer these thoughts for prayerful reflection.


Written on February 21, 2010

Posted October 27, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 9

Tagged with , ,

Third Day of Lent   19 comments

The Calling of St. Matthew, by Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1621

“I desire mercy….”


March 4, 2022

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


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Isaiah 58:1-9a (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet;

declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;

they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

Why have we fasted, and you see it not?

Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek you own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.

Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist.

Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?

Is it to bow down his head like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?

Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the fast I choose:

to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily;

your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.

Psalm 51:1-9 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your merciful love;

according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your singt,

so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless in your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, you desire truth , in the inward being; therefore, teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and an I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear joy and gladness, let the bones which you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out my iniquities.

Matthew 9:10-17 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And as he [Jesus] sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.  And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples,

Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?

But when he heard it, he said,

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’  For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying,

Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?

And Jesus said to them,

Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?  The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.  And no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for one patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made.  Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.

The Collect:

Support us, O Lord, with your gracious favor through the fast we have begun; that as we observe it by bodily self-denial, so we may fulfill it with inner sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Let us remember (or learn then remember) that we cannot love God, whom we cannot see, if we do not love those whom we can see.  How do we measure up by that standard?  I can speak only for myself:  I need to improve.

Too often we human beings focus on justifying ourselves.  This is a form of ego defense, not holiness.  We might not even be aware of what we are doing, for we mortals have a proclivity for living within our delusions while being oblivious to them.  So, while we sin, or “miss the mark,” we think ourselves righteous.

So we look down upon others while ignoring our own wickedness.  Even we, who might think ourselves more righteous than we are, benefit from grace.  How much more, then, do those we might regard as “sinful” (in contrast to ourselves, of course) benefit from God’s unmerited mercy?  God has extended mercy to us, and God expects to do likewise.  Are we observant of this command, or are we oblivious to it?


Written on February 18, 2010

Edited on October 27, 2010

Posted October 27, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 4

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