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Wrestling with the Word, episode 88: Lectionary 22 (14 Pentecost), Year C (August 29, 2010) August 10, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
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Lectionary 22 (14 Pentecost)

We spend a lot of time in church preaching and teaching about how to become better Christians. How does a good Christian act? Who are the role models for Christians? Good questions! Good issues to discuss. But for a moment, let’s not sweat the small stuff. Let us go for the big one: what would happen if God were our role model?  How does God act? How would we act if we were God? It sounds sacrilegious. Interestingly, the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, called on his readers to “be imitators of God, as beloved children.” What would it be like to imitate God? What would you do if God put divine identity and responsibility, even power, into your hands? May I read your minds? You are saying to yourselves, “I’d mess things up. The world would be more of a mess than it already is.” Maybe you’ve seen the movie “Bruce Almighty” where that is precisely what happens. But there is more to being like God, as our lessons for the day demonstrate.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 88: Lectionary 22 (14 Pentecost), Year C.

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Psalm 112
The psalm, like Psalm 1, 19, 119, and others, is a wisdom psalm, written as an acrostic in which each half-verse begins with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Its purpose is to instruct believers in righteous behavior and to promise rewards, that is, the Lord’s blessings, on their obedience. Living in the midst of darkness and evil tidings at the hands of their oppressors, the righteous demonstrate their fidelity to the Lord’s covenant by the way they conduct their lives. God is righteous. God’s people are righteous! God cares for the vulnerable. God’s people imitate God. Dealing generously with others and lending them money, conducting business with justice, acting with graciousness and mercy, giving to the poor—all result from their delight in the Lord’s commandments (recall Psalm 1:2; 111:2; 119:24 and often). The rewards promised for their righteousness include respected and blessed descendants, wealth and riches, security, fearlessness, and honored strength (exalted horn). The expectations for the “wicked” will result in such opposites that their fury will spell their end.

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Proverbs 25:6-7
Humility in the presence of royalty is far better than arrogance and haughtiness.

Context
These two verses conclude the first section of Book II in the Book of Proverbs.  According to the first verse in this chapter, “these also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.”  The cluster with which the second book begins contains four teachings about royalty.  Thus they are examples of royal wisdom taught to those who are to grow up as functionaries, even as princes, in the royal court.  These proverbs, like the rest of wisdom sayings, intend to educate youth in the ways of success.

Key Words
V. 6.  ‘al-hithhaddar liphnê-melek = “do not honor yourself in the presence of a king”:  RSV’s and NRSV’s “put yourself forward” does not do justice to the issue at hand, namely honoring oneself rather giving honor to others, e.g., the elderly (see Lev. 19:32).

V. 7.  mēhašpîlekā liphnê nādîb = “than to be humiliated in the presence of a noble”:  See among many other examples Prov. 29:23.  See the same use of the verb, even in a different form, at Isa. 2:9; 5:15.

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Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
The constancy of God lies at the heart of all that is expected of us in our relationship of praise to God and in our sharing with one another.

Context
The author of the epistle brings his major arguments to a conclusion at the end of chapter 12 with a call to be grateful for God’s gift of an unshakeable kingdom.  Now he turns to the conclusion of the work with exhortations, admonitions, and benediction.

OT Allusions and Quotations
V. 2.  “show hospitality … angels unawares”:  Recall Abraham at Gen. 18:1-8 and Lot at Gen. 19:1-11. For philoxenia/philoxenos = “hospitality” in NT, see Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9.

V. 3.  “those in prison”:  Recall the call in God’s kingdom to release the prisoners at Isa. 61:1; in Jesus’ prophecy about the day of judgment, recall the favor given to those who visited prisoners (Matt. 25:36, 39).

V. 4.  “marriage bed undefiled”:  Recall the commandment against adultery at Exod. 20:14.

V. 5.  “free from the love of money”:  Recall the fickleness of money and riches at Prov. 28:22; in NT see the exhortations at 1 Tim. 3:3, 6:10.

V. 5.  “never fail you nor forsake you”:  The expression sounds like Deut. 31:6, 8 where “the Lord your God will not fail you or forsake you”; for the same promise in the first person, see Josh. 1:5; cf. also the Lord’s promise to Jacob at Gen. 28:15. The resurrected Jesus makes a similar promise to the disciples in connection with “the great commissioning” at Matt. 28:20.

V. 6.  “The Lord is my helper …”:  The same confession occurs at Ps. 118:6-7 and is also similar to the confidence of the Servant at Isa. 50:9.

V. 8.  “the same”:  See Ps. 102:27 in the context of a confession in YHWH’s endurance even over the heavens and the earth that YHWH created. The blessing for those who make such confession are secure lives for themselves and a posterity that dwells in God’s presence.

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Luke 14:1, 7-14
Jesus points to the vision of the kingdom banquet in order to redefine table manners and guest lists here and now.

Context
Still on his fateful journey between Galilee and Jerusalem, Jesus had just been warned by Pharisees that Herod was out to kill him.  Jesus sent them off with a message to Herod that Jerusalem and his house are about to be destroyed.

Key Words
V. 1.  “into the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees to dine”:  For dining with Pharisees on other occasions see Luke 7:36; 11:37.  For dining occasions with other hosts, see 5:29; 10:38-42.  For meals at which Jesus is host see 9:13-17; 22:14; 24:30.

V. 1.  “and they were watching him”:  Note their observations of Jesus at 11:54; 20:20, in both cases with a view to catching him at something they could report to the authorities.

V. 7.  prōtoklisias = “the places of honor” beside the host of a dinner:  See also Matt. 23:6; Mark 12:39; Luke 20:46 (one of the practices for which the scribes will be condemned).

V. 11.  “exalts … be humbled … humbles … be exalted”:  For the opposites caused by the action of God, see Ezek. 17:24; 21:31; Matt. 23:12; Luke 18:14; Phil. 2:6-11; cf. Luke 1:52. In the spirit of the first lesson, recall also the beatitudes at Matt. 5:1-11 and Luke 6:20-26.

V. 12.  kai genētai antapodoma soi = “and repayment be yours”:  The word occurs in the good sense of “reward” (Isa. 1:23 [LXX] and here) or in the negative sense of “retribution” (usual in LXX and Romans 11:9).  The verb form appears in positive sense twice in v. 14.

V. 13. “But when you give a feast”: In light of Jesus’ statement in v. 14 about the resurrection, God’s hosting a feast comes to mind. At Isa. 25:6-8, the prophet envisions a feast that God will host “for all people” at which God will swallow up death and the invitees will enjoy the delicacies of meat and wine.

V. 13.  “the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind”:  The same foursome appears at v. 21.  The “poor” (ptōchoi) have been a special concern in Luke’s Gospel since 4:18.  On “lame” (chōloi) and “blind” (typhloi) and “poor” (ptōchoi), see Luke 7:22 where their reversal of fortune at the hands of Jesus signifies the presence of the kingdom of God.  See Mic. 4:6-7.

V. 14.  “and you will be blessed”:  See the promise of God at Deut. 14:28-29 where God’s blessing the work of the people is the reward for tithing the harvest so that the Levites, the sojourners, the orphans and the widows might eat.

V. 14.  en tē anastasei tōn dikaiōn = “at the resurrection of the righteous”:   See Dan. 12:2-3 for resurrection of both righteous and wicked; for the promise of resurrection elsewhere in Luke, see 20:35.

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