Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 2, 2018, Proper 17, Year B

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Song of Solomon 2:8-13)

A woman rapturously describes the arrival of her true love at her window. He calls for her to get up and go with him, now that spring has come and the flowers have risen. It is the time for love.

Psalm (45:1-2, 6-9)

The king is addressed in exuberant terms: handsome, graceful, blessed, and even as God. He rules in equity and righteousness, uniquely anointed by God. Instruments play in his fragrant palaces, serenading his splendid Queen and her royal attendants.

Second Reading (James 1:17-27)

James points out that God has given Christians birth by the word of truth. We should not be just hearers who walk away unmoved, but doers of the word. Blessed in their so doing, authentic believers guard their own tongue while caring for the needy.

Gospel (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

Jesus accuses some Jewish leaders of hypocrisy because they are so focused on external matters that they have neglected defilement arising in the heart. They have put human traditions over God’s word, thereby missing the true source of sin within each person.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart
  • Our outward manner should reflect our inner person
  • Authentic faith leads to authentic action
  • Doing the word is true listening

Based on the Alternative Readings

First Reading (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9)

As they are about to enter the Promised Land, Moses charges the Israelites to keep the commandments he has given and pass them along unimpaired to their children. Doing so will impress the nations with their wisdom and the closeness of their God.

Psalm (15)

The Psalmist affirms that only those who live righteously can dwell in the Presence of the Lord. They speak the truth and do no evil, despising evil doers and honoring those who keep their word. They do not lend at interest or take bribes to pervert justice.

Second Reading (James 1:17-27)

James points out that God has given Christians birth by the word of truth. We should not be just hearers who walk away unmoved, but doers of the word. Blessed in their doing, authentic believers guard their own tongue while caring for the needy.

Gospel (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

Jesus accuses some Jewish leaders of hypocrisy because they are so focused on external matters that they have neglected defilement arising in the heart. They have put human traditions over God’s word, thereby missing the true source of sin within each person.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Following the word of God leads to wisdom and closeness with him
  • Our outward manner should reflect our inner person
  • Authentic faith leads to authentic action
  • Doing the word is true listening

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