Readings for Year C Proper 18 (23) (September 4, 2016)

First reading and Psalm

  • Jeremiah 18:1-11
  • Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

Alternate First reading and Psalm

  • Deuteronomy 30:15-20
  • Psalm 1

Second reading

  • Philemon 1:1-21


  • Luke 14:25-33

Full lections can be read at:

Based on the readings as set

Perhaps the most urgent connection this week is the idea that God has an absolute claim upon us. Jeremiah uses the stark image of the potter in perfect command of his clay to make this perfectly clear. The psalmist makes the same point but deepens by noting that God’s creature is more properly seen as the human being in all his or her amazing intricacy: not just clay but an actual reflection of the exalted Creator. Paul sends the slave Onesimus back to his master Philemon but appeals to him on the basis of the prior claim of Christ to treat him as a brother and perhaps even to set him free. If some of these images seem extreme, Jesus, ups the ante by insisting that true allegiance to him demands that our natural attachment to our own family is to be considered “hatred” in comparison.

Based on the alternative readings

Both the Deuteronomy passage and the Psalm make the additional but critical point that acknowledging God’s absolute claim upon us is not merely to bow to his superiority but to take the first step toward the abundant life for which we were created in the first place. There is nothing arbitrary about the laws of God.