The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 26, Year A
September 25, ad 2011
Dear Readers, I apologize for the intermittent postings of late; life has been busy. Even more, for some time I was so annoyed with the formatting on Blogger that I simply dreaded the job of taking my notes and making them available. There is a new interface, I believe it is called, that seems to make the job much easier. When I have posted this I will know for certain.
These notes are an revised and expanded version of notes that appeared on this site in 2008.
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them and they follow me” is taken from St John 10.27; the Roman Missal uses the same sentence for this Sunday’s Alleluia verse. The sentence gives no particular emphasis to a theme for the day; rather it invites us to hear the voice of Christ in the Holy Gospel.
This Collect is also found in the American Book of Common Prayer on Proper 16, the Sunday nearest August 24. It emphasises that the unity of the Church comes as we are gathered in the Holy Spirit, and suggests that as far as we do not share that unity we will not show forth God’s power among all peoples.
The First Reading: Exodus 17.1-7
We continue to follow the people of Israel as they journey towards their encounter with the Lord at Mount Sinai.
Some things to be noted:
In verse 1 we are told that Israel journeyed “by stages”, that is, from camp to camp. A more detailed narrative is found in Chapter 33 of the Book of Numbers.
The motif of water from the stricken rock is also found in Numbers 20.2-13. In later legend this rock was said to have followed the Israelites on their journeys. St Paul refers to this legend in 1 Corinthians 10.4, where also speaks of the rock as a type of Christ.
Although I am not always happy with the New Revised Standard Version, I must give them credit for using “Israelites” where the literal meaning is “sons” or “children of Israel”. It is generally thought better to avoid “sons” in modern English; and while “children” is inclusive it has other drawbacks. But the ending “–ite” signifies “one belonging to”, and in the plural “the people of” so that “Israelite” avoids the problem of exclusivity while nicely capturing the sense of the original.
Although Psalm 78 is chosen as the reflection on this reading in today’s propers, and the Roman Missal uses selections from Psalm 25, the classic link is to Psalm 95.8-11, which also ties in Numbers 20.1-13 and Numbers 14.33. This is all brought into service of Christian life and faith in the reflection in the third chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews.
Psalm 78.1-4, 12-16, like Psalms 105, 106, 135, and 136, recites the history of God’s dealings with Israel. 78 puts a particular emphasis on the disobedience and ingratitude of the people. Verses 12-53 record God’s care for his people during the Exodus and the wandering jn the wilderness, and the section chosen for today reflects particularly oin the incident at the Rock of Horeb.
The Epistle Philippians 2.1-13.
The importance of this passage from the letter to the Philippians appears clearly from the number of times it is read in the three-year lectionary. As well as this Sunday, it is read every year on Passion (Palm) Sunday and on the Feast of the Naming of Jesus (January 1).
Writing from prison, St Paul urges the Christians at Philippi in Macedonia to be of one mind, the mind of Christ, following his way of humility. We are more accustomed to hearing he central part of this reading at Christmastide and Passiontide, for it is the great hymn of Christ’s self- giving in the Incarnation and Passion, and of God’s triumphant Yes! to all he did in the Resurrection and Ascension. When we read it in this season of the “ordinary Sundays” perhaps we can look more at ourselves, seeking to find the humility of spirit without which we can never have true unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As is often pointed out, verses 6 to 11 are considered to be an ancient Christian hymn. The reasons for this are set out in the “Clippings” at the RCL site:
In the first verse the words translated “any compassion and sympathy” are literally, “any bowels and mercies”. This is our friend σπλάγχνα again, compassion in the very literal sense of feeling the other person’s condition in your guts. In the Elizabethan Book of Homilies, the second part of the ‘Homily against Contention’ comments on this verse:
Who is he that hath any bowels of pity, that will not be moved with these words so pithy? Whose heart is so stony that the sword of these words, which may be more sharp than any two edged sword, may not cut an break asunder? Wherefore, let us endeavour to fulfil St Paul’s joy here in this place, which shall be at length our great joy in another place.
The Holy Gospel Matthew 21.23-32
After last week’s passage, the lectionary jumps from Matthew 20.16 to 21.23, omitting several important passages, especially the Palm Sunday material. The sections omitted are:
20.17-19: The third Prediction of the passion
20.20-28: On personal Ambition: The request of the mother of the Sons of Zebedee
20.29-34: The healing of the Blind Men at Jericho
21.1-17: Palm Sunday:—
1-11. The Triumphant entry into Jerusalem
12, 13. The Cleansing of the Temple
14-17. The Displeasure of the Priests
21.18-22. The Withering of the Fig Tree.
This reading is in two parts which are both concerned with the response of the religious leaders to John Baptist. Verses 23-27 report the question of the chief priests and elders of the people, who want to know what authority Jesus has for “doing these things”. ‘These things’ apparently refers to the Cleansing of the Temple which had taken place the day before and implied a claim to be Messiah. Jesus’ response, which poses a question about John Baptist, is precisely about Jesus’ authority because John bore witness to the coming of the Messiah (iii. 11-12), and the implication seems to be, bore witness to Jesus as the Messiah.
The Parable of the two Sons follow in vv. 25-32.
In verse 28, one commentator suggests that the words 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today,' might better be taken as ‘go to-day, work in the vineyard’; which is the word order in the original. He notes that “It is an exceptional work, whose value lies in its being done to-day.” Further, the word meaning ‘Son’ is literally ‘child’ a more affectionate term. In return the son who refuses is brusque, and does not even say ‘Father’ , while the other, who speaks obedience, says ‘Sir’, “the attitude of Oriental slavish submissiveness, not of filial love,” in response to his father’s "child”.
I do think that the words “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you” deserve to be stressed. I suspect that some people read this correctly but are thinking instead of you. The phrase can in fact, mean go ahead of you in the sense of “lead the way”. It would do no violence to the text to read it as “the tax collectors and prostitutes will lead you into the kingdom.” There’s something to meditate on this week!
From Anderson’s Commentary : go . . . before you. Not "will go," because Jesus is stating a present fact of His experience and observation, not prophesying about entrance into the future kingdom. Hence Matthew does not change the phrase "Kingdom of God," found in his source, into his usual " Kingdom of the Heavens." The meaning is that they are far in advance of you on the way to the kingdom, i.e. far more responsive to God's rule. Before you does not imply that these official leaders of the people are going or will go into the kingdom, though after them. They would, of course, if they repented, and did the will of God. But as things stand, in the race to the kingdom they have lost the place of primacy. They have rejected the call (ver. 32), and the following parable (33 ff.) expresses their judgment.”
You may find more detailed notes at: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/apr26m.shtml
Calendar NotesFeria signifies an ordinary weekday.
FAS is For All the Saints: Prayers and Readings for Saints’ Days, which may be purchased at the ABC or found on-line at http://www.anglican.ca/resources/liturgicaltextsonline/
Anglican Cycle of Prayer: for more information, see http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acp/index.cfm
25 Sunday The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Southern Virginia - The Rt Revd Herman Hollerith (Province III, USA)
In our own Diocese we remember Tecumseth Deanery and its parishes
26 Monday Commemoration of Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626
“Lancelot Andrewes was a scholarly bishop of Winchester who died in 1626, and we remember him today because his legacy of preaching and devotion is one of the touchstones of our Anglican tradition.” FAS p. 292
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Southwark - The Rt Revd Christopher Thomas Chessun, bishop; Southwark - Croydon - Vacant ; Southwark - Kingston-upon-Thames - The Rt Revd Richard Ian Cheetham; Southwark - Woolwich – Vacant (Province of Canterbury, England)
In Our own Diocese we remember St. Thomas, Huron St
27 Tuesday Commemoration of Sergius, Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392
(Transferred from Sunday) “Today we remember Sergius, a Russian monk of the fourteenth century who, even before his death in 1392, was regarded by the Russian people as their national saint. FAS p 290
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham - The Rt Revd Paul Roger Butler; Southwell - Sherwood - The Rt Revd Anthony Porter (Province of York, England.
In our own Diocese we remember St. Andrew, Alliston
28 Wednesday Feria; Eve of Michaelmas
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia - The Rt Revd Frank Neff Powell (Province III, USA)
In our own Diocese we remember St. David, Everett
29 Thursday Saint Michael and All Angels HD
“Today we celebrate those mysterious beings which Scripture calls “angels,” a name which comes from the Greek word for ‘messengers’.” FAS p. 294. See also the note in Chambers’ Book of Days for September 29th: http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/sept/29.htm
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Spokane - The Rt Revd James Edward Waggoner (Province VIII, USA)
In our own Diocese we remember the Parish of the Evangelists, Tottenham
30 Friday Memorial of Jerome, Teacher of the Faith, 420
“Jerome was a fourth-century monk who produced the standard Latin version of Scriptures known as the Vulgate and by his own commentaries on the text had a lasting influence on the Church’s interpretation of the Bible.” FAS p. 296
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Springfield - The Rt Revd Daniel Hayden Martins (Province V, USA)
In our own Diocese we remember St. John, Cookstown
1 Saturday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Albans - The Rt Revd Alan Gregory Clayton Smith
St Albans - Bedford - The Rt Revd Richard Neil Inwood; St Albans - Hertford - The Rt Revd Paul Bayes (in the Province of Canterbury, England)
In our own Diocese we remember St. John Caledon (formerly Mono)
2 Sunday The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Asaph - The Rt Revd Gregory Cameron (The Church in Wales)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember The Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario