Some Notes for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 27 in Year A
Sunday, October 2 2011
The Sentence is a clear echo of the Gospel parable read today.
The Collect in the BAS is the Prayer Book Collect for the feast of SS Simon and Jude (October 28), which was originally composed in 1549 for the first BCP.
Exodus 20.1–4, 7–9, 12–20
This reading is, of course, the Ten Commandments (in Hebrew, ‘Ten Words’). It would be useful before turning to this passage to read Exodus 19, which tells of the arrival of the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, where the Covenant between God and Israel was established.
The Commandments are repeated in Deuteronomy 5: the two versions differ only slightly, chiefly in the reason given for the institution of the Sabbath Day (compare Exodus 20.11 and Deuteronomy 5:15). In the Tenth Commandment Deuteronomy places the neighbour’s wife ahead of his house and the slaves and livestock (compare Deuteronomy 5.21 with Exodus 20.17). Rather than take the space here for an inadequate commentary on the Commandments, we suggest that for a first step in applying the Commandments in one’s daily life, one should refer to the portion of the Catechism on pages 546 to 549 of the Book of Common Prayer. Many other commentaries on the Commandments may be found.
Exodus tells us that God himself spoke the commandments in the hearing of all Israel. They were given, in effect, to each individual, and without any intermediary or interpretation.
In the Sixth Commandment the translation ‘Thou shalt do no murder’ is more accurate than ‘Thou shalt not kill.
The last three verses of the reading (18-20) relate the people’s immediate reaction of fear and awe, and their request that God no longer speak directly to them.
This psalm praises God as creator of all things and the giver of the law. It has been suggested that the second part, which praises the Law of the Lord, was added by a later writer to balance the revelation of God in nature. In verses 7-9 six terms for ‘law’ are used, reminiscent of Psalm 119. Some scholars suggest that for ‘fear’ in verse 9 ‘word’ should be read.
The Epistle: Philippians 3.4b–14
Philippians 3.1-11 is a warning against those who were trying to convince the Philippians that acceptance of Jewish law, including circumcision was necessary for converts to Christianity. (vv. 1-3: see also Galatians 5.12). As to the outward conditions and ritual, Paul now asserts that he is second to none (vv. 4-6), but all this is nothing in comparison with ‘the supreme value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (vv. 7-8). In Christ he has found a true righteousness, which comes not from the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus (v. 9). But while this righteousness is of grace, and not works, Paul must still ‘press on’, make the serious effort to take hold of the gift. But all his effort is for the goal of knowing the power of the resurrection: it is for this that he undergoes the self-giving of his ministry as an apostle. In stating all this about himself, he is exhorting the Philippians—and us who read him in later centuries—to seek the same knowledge of Christ and in their own lives to press on toward the goal, “the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (v. 14).
The Holy Gospel according to St Matthew 21.33-46
The Parable of the Vineyard or of the Wicked Husbandmen
This is the second of the three parables addressed to the religious leaders in Jerusalem after the challenge to Jesus’ authority in 21.23-27. Archbishop Trench noted:
“The Lord's adversaries had by this time so manifestly gotten the worse, that, for this day at least, they would willingly have brought the controversy by them so imprudently provoked (see ver. 23) to a close. But no; He will not let them go: He has begun and will finish; 'Hear another parable;' as though He would say, 'I have still another word for you of warning and rebuke,' and to that He now summons them to listen.”
Jesus clearly based this parable on Isaiah 5.1-7, and one should read that passage in connection with this. The vineyard represents Israel; but how much weight should be placed on the details of the hedge, the tower, and the winepress in interpreting the story? Perhaps it is enough to say that they mean that God has done everything possible to make the vineyard a good one. The owner of the vineyard lets it out to tenants and goes on a journey (though our translation has him go to a far country, the expression is literally went away from home). This detail is the occasion for messages through his servants, i.e., the prophets. The details of the ill-treatment of the prophets cannot be pressed. Simply all the prophets, whenever they came, were shamefully treated. The sending of the owner’s son is a foretelling of the passion and death of Christ. At the end Jesus gets the chief priests and Pharisees to pronounce judgement on the case. Note that the expression “He will put those wretches to a miserable death” is in the original “kakous kakόs apolesei autous, literally, ‘he will badly destroy those bad ones’.
Verse 42 quotes Psalm 118.22-23 (see also Acts 4.11, 1 Peter 2.7). In the original the stone stood for Israel so lightly esteemed by the world) is here applied to Christ, the Messiah, the ideal of Israel, head of the corner = the corner-stone binding the two walls together.
The arrangement of verses 41 to 44 should be compared with the arrangement of the same material in Luke 20.17-19. Here verse 43 seems to be out of place, as it interrupts an obvious flow of thought from 42 to 44. Verse 44: compare Dan. 2. 34, 44, 45, where the stone ‘cut by no human hand’ rolls down from the mountain.
The rest of the passage is fairly straightforward and the time for finishing these notes is past due.
Feria 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
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
3 Monday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St David's - (Wales) The Rt Revd John Wyn Evans
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember St. Luke, Rosemont
4 Tuesday Memorial of Francis of Assisi, Friar, 1226
'Today we celebrate Francis of Assisi, the thirteenth-century Italian whose greatest honour was to be known as il Poverello, “the little poor one of Christ.”' FAS, p. 298.
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich - (Canterbury, England) The Rt Revd William Nigel Stock, and in that diocese the sufffragan bishop of Dunwich, The Rt Revd Clive Young
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember St. Paul, Coulson’s Hill
5 Wednesday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Helena, The Rt Revd Richard David Fenwick (Southern Africa)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember St. Peter, Churchill
6 Thursday Feria
Provincial General Election in Ontario
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, The Rt Revd Martin Andre Breytenbach (Southern Africa)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember Trinity Church, Bradford
7 Friday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Sunyani, The Rt Revd Festus Yeboah-Asuamah (West Africa)
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember David Busby Street Centre (FaithWorks)
8 Saturday Feria
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Swansea & Brecon (Wales) The Rt Revd John Davies
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember The Archbishop’s Committee on Healing
9 Sunday The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
In the Anglican Communion we remember the Diocese of Sydney - (New South Wales, Australia) The Most Revd Dr Peter Frederick Jensen
In our diocesan Cycle of Prayer we remember The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada