Sunday, September 23, 2018
Lectionary 25

First Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20

Today’s reading tells of the suffering of the prophet Jeremiah, who announced God’s word to Judah but was met with intense opposition and persecution. Jeremiah continues to trust in God in the midst of his suffering.

18It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew;
  then you showed me their evil deeds.
19But I was like a gentle lamb
  led to the slaughter.
 And I did not know it was against me
  that they devised schemes, saying,
 “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
  let us cut him off from the land of the living,
  so that his name will no longer be remembered!”
20But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously,
  who try the heart and the mind,
 let me see your retribution upon them,
  for to you I have committed my cause.

First Reading (alternate): Wisdom 1:16--2:1, 12-22

Dating from shortly before the time of Christ, the Wisdom of Solomon is a piece of Jewish wisdom literature. This reading portrays the ungodly planning the downfall of the righteous person. The ungodly are allied with death, and they do not know that God gives eternal life to the righteous.

16The ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;
 considering him a friend, they pined away
 and made a covenant with him,
 because they are fit to belong to his company.
2:1For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
 “Short and sorrowful is our life,
 and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,
 and no one has been known to return from Hades.

12“Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
 because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
 he reproaches us for sins against the law,
 and accuses us of sins against our training.
13He professes to have knowledge of God,
 and calls himself a child of the Lord.
14He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
15the very sight of him is a burden to us,
 because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
 and his ways are strange.
16We are considered by him as something base,
 and he avoids our ways as unclean;
 he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
 and boasts that God is his father.
17Let us see if his words are true,
 and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
18for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
 and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
19Let us test him with insult and torture,
 so that we may find out how gentle he is,
 and make trial of his forbearance.
20Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
 for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

21Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
 for their wickedness blinded them,
22and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
 nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
 nor discerned the prize for blameless souls.

Psalm: Psalm 54

God is my helper; it is the Lord who sustains my life. (Ps. 54:4)

1Save me, O God, | by your name;
  in your might, de-
| fend my cause.
2Hear my | prayer, O God;
  give ear to the words
| of my mouth.
3For strangers have risen up against me, and the ruthless have | sought my life,
  those who have no re-
| gard for God.
4Behold, God | is my helper;
  it is the Lord who sus-
| tains my life. R
5Render evil to those who | spy on me;
  in your faithful-
| ness, destroy them.
6I will offer you a | freewill sacrifice
  and praise your name, O Lord, for
| it is good.
7For you have rescued me from | every trouble,
  and my eye looks down
| on my enemies. R

Semicontinuous Psalm: Psalm 1

They are like trees planted by streams of water. (Ps. 1:3)

1Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel | of the wicked,
  nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats
| of the scornful!
2Their delight is in the law | of the Lord,
  and they meditate on God’s teaching
| day and night. R
3They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that | do not wither;
  everything they
| do shall prosper.
4It is not so | with the wicked;
  they are like chaff which the wind
| blows away.
5Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when | judgment comes,
  nor the sinner in the council
| of the righteous.
6For the Lord knows the way | of the righteous,
  but the way of the wicked shall
| be destroyed. R

Second Reading: James 3:13--4:3, 7-8a

The wisdom God gives unites our hearts and minds. Instead of living to satisfy our own wants and desires, we manifest this wisdom in peace, gentleness, mercy, and impartiality toward others.

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.4:

1Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8aDraw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Gospel: Mark 9:30-37

Jesus’ teaching and action in this text are directed to the church whenever it is seduced by the world’s definition of greatness: prestige, power, influence, and money. The antidote to such a concern for greatness is servanthood.

30[Jesus and the disciples went on] and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
33Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

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