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Wrestling with the Word, episode 84: Lectionary 18 (10 Pentecost), Year C (August 1, 2010) July 17, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
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Lectionary 18 (10 Pentecost)

Nothing, it seems, makes people more anxious than the daily gyrations in the stock market. The precipitous drops in the Dow Jones raise our insecurity levels over our pensions, our budgets, our present life-styles, and our well-strategized futures. All that is completely understandable for life in the world. The problem is that our stress over our attempts at security can rob us of the opportunity to receive what God is so willingly giving away free!

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 84: Lectionary 18 (10 Pentecost), Year C.

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Psalm 49:1-12
The poem, accompanied with music according to verse 4, is a wisdom psalm. The disharmony of the whole piece, however, is the fact that the composer uses all the ingredients at the disposable of an ancient wisdom teacher to put wisdom in its place. The song attacks the traditional teaching of wisdom that success is a matter of learning and doing all the right things. The tradition teaches that the good are rewarded and the wicked are punished. Yet the refrain in this psalm is that “Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like the animals that perish” (vss. 12, 20). Only one verse in the song of instruction provides the answer to this human dilemma: “”But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me” (v. 15).

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Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
The Preacher, impersonating King Solomon who was known for wisdom and pleasure, concludes, after having experienced both, that both are worthless goals in life even if both are gifts from God.

Context
In this first part of the book the Preacher judges everything to be vanity, that is, worthless striving.  Even the processes of nature are part of a monotonous cycle.  Portraying himself as King Solomon who had gained all that the human imagination could hope for, the Preacher indicates that he put all his wisdom and wealth and pleasure to the test, and discovered they were not worth the trouble in attaining them.

Key Words
2:18-24.  ‘āmēl = “labor” and “the results of labor”:  Here the Hebrew word is used with both meanings, thus “labor” and “wealth.”

2:19.  leya’ēš = “to despair”:  The same root word appears at Jer. 2:25; 18:12; Isa. 57:10 to express hopelessness.

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Colossians 3:1-11
God calls those who have been baptized into Christ’s death and raised to a new humanity to live according to their identity in the name of Christ.

Context
Beginning at 2:20 the author attempts to define what the new life in Christ means for the believer, particularly in terms of the contrast with the ways of the world.  According to the final verses of chapter 2, submission to regulations is part of worldly attitude which the Christian is to leave.

Key Words
V. 2.  ta anō … ta epi tēs gēs = “things above … things on earth”:  The “earthly things” are described in vv. 5, 8, 9;  the contrast appears in vv. 12-17.

V. 3.  apethanete = “you have died”:  According to  2:20, by baptism Christians died to the “elemental spirits of the universe”;  cf. Rom. 6:4; 7:4; 2 Cor. 14-15.

V. 5.  nekrōsate oun ta melē = “therefore mortify your limbs”:  What follows seems to mean immoral use of our limbs; cf. 1 Cor. 6:15.

V. 5.  tēn pleonexian hētis estin eidōlolatria = “covetousness which is idolatry”:  See the same formula at Eph. 5:5; for the relationship of pleonexia and sins of sensuality, see 1 Cor. 5:10; 6:10; 2 Pet. 2:14.

V. 10.  kat’ eikona tou ktisantos auton = “according to the image of its Creator”:  cf. Gen. 1:27; also Col. 1:15.

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Luke 12:13-21
Against our attempts to fragment ourselves and establish our importance in material possessions, God, Jesus the teacher tells us, requires of us to seek the kingdom and enjoy the nurturing of God.

Parallel Passage:  Psalm 49

Context
Before addressing the multitudes, Jesus warned his disciples about Pharisaic hypocrisy, about whom to fear, and about denying him. To be avoided, Jesus teaches, is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, even when on trial. Now Luke, sometimes called “the gospel for the poor,” reports Jesus’ teaching about the vanity of wealth.

Key Words
V. 13.  tēn klēronomian = “the inheritance”:  See Num. 27:1-11; for the double portion of the inheritance assigned to the first-born and for the death penalty on one who complains about it (see also Deut. 21:15-21).

V. 14.  tis me katestēsen kritēn ē meristēn eph’ hymas = “Who made me judge and divider over you?”:  cf. Exod. 2:14 where the words Tis se katestēsen archonta kai dikastēn eph hēmōn = “Who made you ruler and judge over us” are addressed to Moses.

V. 15.  pleonexias = “covetousness”:  At Col. 3:5 and Eph. 5:5 the form of covetousness is idolatry.

V. 20.  “Whose will they be?”:  See Ps. 39:6:  “one who heaps up and knows not who will gather”;  cf. also Eccles. 2:18-19.

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