Reign of Christ, Nov. 26, 2017, Proper 29, Year A

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Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24)

The Lord God proclaims that he will gather the people of Israel together from their places of exile like a shepherd who gathers his sheep and provides them with lavish care. Those who have abused the weak will be destroyed and the nation’s relationship with God will be restored under David as its shepherd-king.

Psalm (100)

The Psalmist exhorts the whole earth to joyful praise of Yahweh, creator of all, and to come into his presence as his people, sheep of his pasture. Yahweh is good, loving and faithful across the generations.

OR

Psalm (95:1-7a)

The Psalmist invites the people of God into the joyful presence of Yahweh with thanks and praise. As creator of all things he is king over all other powers and we are his sheep, fed in his pasture.

Second Reading (Ephesians 1:15-23)

St. Paul is caught up in the knowledge of God’s great power made known in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to a place above all other rule and authority. He prays that the Ephesians will experience this power more and more as they come to know Christ in whom their hope for redemption is secure.

Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46)

Using the image of a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats, Jesus teaches that he himself will occupy a throne of solemn judgment when he returns in great glory. All the nations will be held to account for how they have treated the least of those whom he identifies as extensions of himself, his family.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God/Christ as shepherd-king: savior, provider, protector, judge
  • The people of God as “sheep” and God/Christ as “shepherd”
  • The relationship/identification of God/Christ with his people
  • Trusting in the awesome power of God, creator, re-creator, king
  • God/Christ as the shepherd who sets all things right
  • In the presence of God/Christ

 

 

Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, November 19, 2017, Proper 28, Year A

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Lection Connection for Thanksgiving Day, November 23, can be found here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Judges 4:1-7)

In the repeated pattern recorded in the book of Judges, Israel falls into sin and Yahweh hands them over to a local Canaanite king. When the people call out to Yahweh he uses the prophetess Deborah to tell the commander of Israel’s army to attack the king’s army with the assurance of victory.

Psalm (123)

In a time when Israel is suffering the scorn and contempt of the proud, the Psalmist directs his plea for relief to the one he knows has power to help. He looks to Yahweh as a maid would naturally look to her mistress.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

St. Paul knows the Thessalonians are well aware that the dreadful Day of the Lord will come unexpectedly and when least expected. He encourages them to be prepared and on constant alert in confident anticipation of Christ’s salvation.

Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30)

To illustrate how his followers are to conduct themselves in his absence, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. A man goes on a long journey and entrusts his money to three of his servants. Two of them put the money to good use, bringing increase to their master and praise for themselves. But one does nothing and is condemned.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Salvation and judgment are both part of God’s action
  • The importance of knowing who is in charge
  • Living in a time when God seems silent and inactive in the face of widespread sin
  • Living as a Christian in the light of Jesus’ return
  • The need for constant attention to our spiritual condition

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18)

To those who contentedly believe he will never act in judgment, Yahweh spells out the coming wrath of the Day of the LORD that is at hand. Widespread disobedience to divine commands will bring about worldwide distress, darkness, and destruction.

Psalm (90:1-12)

The Psalmist acknowledges the great gulf between Yahweh’s mighty eternal being and us short-lived mortals. To Yahweh time is of no consideration while humanity struggles to survive but a few passing years. His anger at our sin should inspire us to use our time wisely.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

St. Paul knows the Thessalonians are well aware that the dreadful Day of the Lord will come unexpectedly and when least expected. He encourages them to be prepared and on constant alert in confident anticipation of Christ’s salvation.

Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30)

To illustrate how his followers are to conduct themselves in his absence, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. A man goes on a long journey and entrusts his money to three of his servants. Two of them put the money to good use, bringing increase to their master and praise for themselves. But one does nothing and is condemned.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The reality and magnitude of judgment and salvation
  • Salvation and judgment are both part of God’s action
  • Living in a time when God seems silent and inactive in the face of widespread sin
  • Living as a Christian in the light of Jesus’ return
  • The need for constant attention to our spiritual condition

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Day, November 23. 2017, Year A

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Deuteronomy 8:7-18)

Moses warns the Israelites not to forget Yahweh when they occupy Canaan and begin to enjoy the extreme fruitfulness of the Land. It was Yahweh who not only brought them out of Egypt and through the wilderness but who also gives them the strength to work the land and acquire great wealth. They owe it all to him.

Psalm (65)

The Palmist calls for praise to the God who answers prayer and forgives sins. Those among whom he dwells are blessed indeed, but, as he is the hope of the ends of the earth, all flesh will come to him. As creator he continues to provide the resources for the enormous bounty of the earth, eliciting joy from the whole realm of nature.

Second Reading (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)

One of St. Paul’s major projects was the collection and delivery of funds from the Gentile churches for the relief of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. Here he encourages the Corinthians to give cheerfully and generously remembering that their blessings have comes from God in the first place. Indeed, their giving will generate further blessing for themselves as well as thanksgiving to God from both Paul and the recipients.

Gospel (Luke 17:11-19)

Ten lepers approach Jesus for healing as he makes his way down to Jerusalem. He tells them to show themselves to the priests whose task it is to determine if those with communicable diseases are well enough to re-enter society. On their way they are all healed but only one of them, a Samaritan, returns to thank Jesus and praise God. It amazes Jesus that only one out of ten had come back and he sends him on his way with a commendation.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • All that we have, including possessions and abilities, comes from God
  • Giving thanks is not to be taken for granted but needs to be encouraged
  • Failing to give thanks is often an act of forgetfulness
  • God has already done so much for us that thanksgiving is always called for
  • Thanksgiving for blessings, especially when tangibly expressed, brings blessings in turn
  • You can’t out-give God

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost, November 12, 2017, Proper 27, Year A

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25)

Having led Israel in the conquest of Canaan, Joshua charges the nation always to follow Yahweh and not the gods of their ancestors or the gods of the Land. Joshua commits himself and his family to Yahweh and the people do so as well, Joshua sealing their commitment with a covenant.

Psalm (78:1-7)

The Psalmist calls upon Israel to pay attention to things in their past in danger of becoming obscure. The nation is challenged to remember and pass on to future generations the great things Yahweh has done for them, encouraging hope and obedience.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Some early Christians are concerned that believers who had already died would miss out on the return of the Lord. St. Paul points out that the resurrection of Jesus means that the dead would assuredly partake in this great event. Indeed, they will rise first to meet him in the air, followed by the living. This hope should give comfort to all.

Gospel (Matthew 25:1-13)

Jesus tells the parable of the ten bridesmaids waiting to meet the bridegroom: five foolish who took no oil for their lamps and five wise who did. When he finally arrived, the foolish bridesmaids, away to get oil, missed out on the wedding feast. Jesus concludes that we should always be looking and prepared for his return.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Our hope for the future is rooted in the past faithfulness of God
  • Our commitment to God needs constant renewal
  • Forewarned is forearmed
  • The importance of sustaining urgency in the light of Christ’s delayed return

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Amos 5:18-24)

Amos warns his listeners not to expect that the Day of the Lord will bring them vindication and victory. Instead it will bring judgment because, in spite of their meticulous religious observances, they have neglected justice and righteousness.

Psalm (70)

The Psalmist cries out to Yahweh at his delay in coming to deliver and save. He wants his adversaries to suffer dishonor and the faithful to be vindicated. In the meantime he remains confident that Yahweh will act, but pleads for immediate relief.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Some early Christians are concerned that believers who had already died would miss out on the return of the Lord. St. Paul points out that the resurrection of Jesus means that the dead would assuredly partake in this great event. Indeed, they will rise first to meet him in the air, followed by the living. This hope should give comfort to all.

Gospel (Matthew 25:1-13)

Jesus tells the parable of the ten bridesmaids waiting to meet the bridegroom: five foolish who took no oil for their lamps and five wise who did. When he finally arrived, the foolish bridesmaids, away to get oil, missed out on the wedding feast. Jesus concludes that we should always be looking and prepared for his return.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Our commitment to God needs constant renewal
  • Forewarned is forearmed
  • The importance of sustaining urgency in the light of Christ’s delayed return
  • We ought at all times to acknowledge our sins before God, but especially so in the light of Christ’s return
  • An orientation to God’s future has implications for the present

 

 

 

 

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, November 5, 2017, Proper 26, Year A

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Lection Connection for All Saints Day can be found here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Joshua 3:7-17)

On Yahweh’s word Joshua orders the ark of the covenant into the Jordan and the people pass over on dry ground into the Promised Land. This demonstrates that Yahweh is with Joshua in the same way he was with Moses, authenticating him as the new leader of Israel.

Psalm (107:1-7, 33-37)

The Psalmist calls for thanks to be given to Yahweh for his steadfast love as shown in his redeeming those who cry out to him in the midst of serious trouble. He gathers them to safety and satisfies their thirst and hunger by his power to change even the natural environment to their advantage.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13)

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of his conduct among them as a herald of the Gospel. Instead of being a burden, he supported himself while treating them with honesty, respect and concern. He gives thanks that they responded by accepting God’s word into their lives.

Gospel (Matthew 23:1-12)

Jesus acknowledges the value of the teaching of the rabbis but warns his listeners not to follow their example. Their concern is to be seen as pious and to enjoy their exalted place in society. He urges his followers instead to consider themselves students, children, and servants, predicting the humiliation of the proud and the exaltation of the humble.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God has power over nature, human and otherwise
  • Humility has its rewards
  • God does not overlook the needy
  • True spiritual leadership requires humility and integrity

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Micah 3:5-12)

Yahweh is going to withhold his revelations from those prophets who predict good things for those who feed them and evil things for those who do not. By the Spirit Micah determines to speak the truth of coming judgment to the leaders of Israel who are corrupt at every level.

Psalm (Psalm 43)

The Psalmist calls upon God for vindication against the deceitful and unjust who have oppressed him. He is confident that, if led by God’s light and truth, he will once again offer praise in the sanctuary.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13)

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of his conduct among them as a herald of the Gospel. Instead of being a burden, he supported himself while treating them with honesty, respect and concern. He gives thanks that they responded by accepting God’s word into their lives.

Gospel (Matthew 23:1-12)

Jesus acknowledges the value of the teaching of the rabbis but warns his listeners not to follow their example. Their concern is to be seen as pious and to enjoy their exalted place in society. He urges his followers instead to consider themselves students, children, and servants, predicting the humiliation of the proud and the exaltation of the humble.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • True spiritual leadership requires humility and integrity
  • The easy but spiritually dangerous path of fulfilling societal expectations
  • God will judge his servants who abuse their calling

 

 

 

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, October 29, 2017, Proper 25, Year A

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Lection Connection for All Saints Day can be found here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Deuteronomy 34:1-12)

Moses ascends Mt. Pisgah and Yahweh shows him the entire sweep of the Promised Land to which he has been leading the people through the wilderness. He will never enter it. Instead he dies there on the mountain, an old but still vigorous man. He leaves an imposing legacy for his chosen successor Joshua to emulate as he takes Israel into the Land.

Psalm (90:1-6, 13-17)

The Psalmist celebrates Yahweh as Israel’s refuge, the creator in charge of all life and whose plans are not swept away with the passage of time. He then pleads for Yahweh’s help in the present distress of the nation and enable their efforts to bear fruit. His appeal is based on Yahweh’s steadfast love for his people.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8)

St. Paul, in spite of opposition, is confident of being entrusted with the Gospel by God himself and reminds the Thessalonians how he had brought the message to them with gentle integrity. Because they were precious to him, he gave his very self along with the Gospel and it has borne fruit in their lives.

Gospel (Matthew 22:34-46)

The Sadducees test Jesus by asking him to name the greatest of God’s laws. He responds by reciting those he says underlie them all: first to love God, and second to love one’s neighbor. Then he leads them to ponder how in the Scriptures David can possibly call his own son “Lord”. This mystery serves to silence them and no one ever dares to test him again.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The cost and benefits of godly leadership
  • The role of opposition and testing in our Christian lives
  • The importance and satisfaction of bearing fruit in our lives
  • The various faces of loving one’s neighbor

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18)

Yahweh has Moses set before the Israelites their basic obligation as the “people of God” to be holy, just as he is holy. He goes on to spell out the fuller implications of what this means for their relationships with their neighbors, loving them as much as themselves.

Psalm (1)

This Psalm, standing at the head of the Psalms, spells out the two paths available for human beings: the way of Yahweh or the way of sinners. Conforming to the Law results in a blessed and stable life in companionship with God. Disobedience to the Law results in judgment and instability in isolation from God.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8)

St. Paul, in spite of opposition, is confident of being entrusted with the Gospel by God himself and reminds the Thessalonians how he had brought the message to them with gentle integrity. Because they were precious to him, he gave his very self along with the Gospel and it has borne fruit in their lives.

Gospel (Matthew 22:34-46)

The Sadducees test Jesus by asking him to name the greatest of God’s laws. He responds by reciting those he says underlie them all: first to love God, and second to love one’s neighbor. Then he leads them to ponder how in the Scriptures David can possibly call his own son “Lord”. This mystery serves to silence them and no one ever dares to test him again.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Two opposed ways to live
  • The cost and benefits of godly leadership
  • The various faces of loving one’s neighbor

 

 

 

All Saints Day, November 1, 2017, Year A

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Revelation 7:9-17)

John the Divine’s vision of heaven depicts countless white-robed people from every nation worshipping before the throne of God and the Lamb. They are joined by the heavenly creatures in a vast song of praise and are identified as those who have come through great trouble, having washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. He is now their shepherd: protecting , providing and wiping away every tear.

Psalm (34:1-10, 22)

The Psalmist, having been delivered from great trouble and fear, calls for great praise to be offered to Yahweh who delivered him. All who take refuge in Yahweh will find protection, deliverance, and provision.

Second Reading (1 John 3:1-3)

St. John emphasizes that Christians should know themselves as God’s children, sharing his rejection by the present world as well as becoming like him in the world to come. This is the hope by which they sustain their efforts toward purity in this life.

Gospel (Matthew 5:1-12)

In the Beatitudes Jesus enumerates how godly living in this life leads in due course to the possession of the kingdom of heaven in all its blessedness. Although persecution and trouble may result, these should be considered as blessings because they bring great rewards in heaven and were also suffered by the godly prophets of old.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Persecution and its rewards
  • The alien but rewarding quality of godliness in this world
  • God’s ultimate protection and provision for the faithful
  • God the deliverer from evil and trouble
  • We are not alone in our troubles
  • God’s future, his kingdom come, puts all of life into perspective

 

 

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, October 22, 2017, Proper 24, Year A

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Exodus 33:12-23)

Moses feels the heavy responsibility of leading unruly Israel and appeals to Yahweh for help. Yahweh promises that his Presence will go with them and so demonstrate their uniqueness among the nations. He then grants Moses’ request to see his divine glory by protecting him in a cleft of a rock and covering him with his own hand. For his own safety Moses was only able to glimpse the divine form from behind and not face to face.

Psalm (99)

The Psalmist begins with the affirmation of Yahweh as King of all peoples, a King whose love of justice and righteousness has been implemented first of all in Israel. Three times Yahweh is declared holy and three times the people are called to worship in his awesome Presence.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)

St. Paul knows the Thessalonians are among God’s chosen because his preaching of the Gospel was in the Holy Spirit and power. Responding with faith, they became willing imitators of Paul and his team, joyful examples to others well beyond their own region. In spite of persecution they turned from idols to the living God and now wait for his resurrected Son to return and rescue them from the wrath to come.

Gospel (Matthew 22:15-22)

A group of Pharisees try to trick Jesus up by asking him if he considers it lawful to pay an unpopular tax to the Roman emperor. Jesus, knowing their intent, asks them whose head and title are inscribed on the coin used for the tax. Of course it is Caesar’s and Jesus tell them to give to Caesar what is his and to God what is his. Amazed at his answer, they leave him alone.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Everything in all creation belongs to God
  • Questioning God?
  • The importance of the right attitude when confronted with the truth of God
  • To whom do we owe ultimate allegiance?
  • The holiness of God
  • Being in the presence of God
  • What to do in the face of opposition

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Isaiah 45:1-7)

Yahweh proclaims Cyrus the Persian emperor as his anointed servant through whom he is working on behalf of Israel, his chosen people. Even though the mighty king does not know him, Yahweh affirms his divine sovereignty, not only over him but also all of history. He alone is God and his actions are intended to make this fact known far and wide.

Psalm (96:1-9, [10-13])

In a breathtaking affirmation of Yahweh’s absolute sovereignty over the entire earth, the Psalmist calls for all the nations to come into his sanctuary to worship him as the only king. He is the all-powerful creator while other gods are mere idols. He alone is the judge and even the trees of the field join in the joyful acknowledgement of his majesty.

Second Reading (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)

St. Paul knows the Thessalonians are among God’s chosen because his preaching of the Gospel was in the Holy Spirit, both in word and power. Responding with faith, they became willing imitators of Paul and his team, joyful examples to others well beyond their own region. In spite of persecution they turned from idols to the living God and now wait for his resurrected Son to return and rescue them from the wrath to come.

Gospel (Matthew 22:15-22)

A group of Pharisees try to trick Jesus up by asking him if he considers it lawful to pay an unpopular tax to the Roman emperor. Jesus, knowing their intent, asks them whose head and title are inscribed on the coin used for the tax. Of course it is Caesar’s and Jesus tell them to give to Caesar what is his and to God what is his. Amazed at his answer, they leave him alone.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Everything in all creation belongs to God
  • To whom do we owe ultimate allegiance?
  • God is sovereign over earthly kings
  • God is accomplishing his purposes in history
  • Turning from idols to the living God
  • The joy of following Jesus

 

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 15, 2017, Proper 23, Year A

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Exodus 32:1-14)

While Moses meets with Yahweh on Mt. Sinai the people, again upset with Moses’ leadership, demand that Aaron make gods for them. He makes a golden calf that they then celebrate as responsible for their deliverance out of Egypt. Yahweh angrily decides to destroy a people so quick to turn away from him. He plans to make a great nation out of Moses instead but changes his mind when the latter intercedes for the Israelites.

Psalm (106:1-6, 19-23)

The Psalmist reflects on the steadfast love of Yahweh for his chosen people in light of their great sin with the golden calf at Mt. Sinai. Although they dishonoured and insulted their saviour and angered him exceedingly, Moses was able to intercede and prevent their destruction.

Second Reading (Philippians 4:1-9)

St. Paul urges his readers to stand firm by being of the same mind in the Lord. He urges intercession for two women who are in disagreement and offers this advice to all: give thanks in everything. Thankfulness is the way to peace as we focus our attention on those things that are honourable, commendable and praiseworthy.

Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14)

Jesus likens the kingdom to a king who invites a number of guests to the wedding of his son but they violently reject his messengers when they announce the great feast that has been prepared. This so enrages the king that he invites everyone else to the feast and, while many come, one man is rejected for failing to wear a proper garment. Jesus concludes that although many are called into the kingdom not many will actually enter it.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • God provides a feast
  • Feasting as a Godly celebration of salvation
  • The importance of interceding
  • The serious nature of refusing God’s invitation to follow him
  • Our excuses for disobedience only reveal our spiritual poverty
  • Being unthankful angers God and being thankful brings peace

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Isaiah 25:1-9)

Isaiah exults in Yahweh as his God, a God who shelters the needy and has done such amazing deeds that all the peoples of the earth will be drawn to worship him. They will come to Mt. Zion for a great celebratory feast as death is finally destroyed and sorrow made a thing of the past. Isaiah calls for a glad anticipation of that day of salvation for both Israel and the nations.

Psalm (23)

The Psalmist characterizes Yahweh as a skilled shepherd who can provide for his sheep in all circumstances. He provides abundant pasture and water, allows the sheep to rest and rejuvenate, always keeping danger at bay. He even provides a feast under the noses of their enemies, making it certain that the sheep will always seek his presence.

Second Reading (Philippians 4:1-9)

St. Paul urges his readers to stand firm by being of the same mind in the Lord. He urges intercession for two women who are in disagreement and offers this advice to all: give thanks in everything. Thankfulness is the way to peace as we focus our attention on those things that are honourable, commendable and praiseworthy.

Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14)

Jesus likens the kingdom to a king who invites a number of guests to the wedding of his son but they violently reject his messengers when they announce the great feast that has been prepared. This so enrages the king that he invites everyone else to the feast and, while many come, one man is rejected for failing to wear a proper garment. Jesus concludes that although many are called into the kingdom not many will actually enter it.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Thanksgiving as a godly way of living
  • God provides a feast
  • Feasting as a Godly celebration of salvation
  • The importance of interceding
  • The serious nature of refusing God’s invitation to follow him
  • Our excuses for disobedience only reveal our spiritual poverty
  • Being unthankful angers God and being thankful brings peace

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 8, 2017, Proper 22, Year A

Lection Connection for Canadian Thanksgiving can be found here.

 

Please see How to Use Lection Connection

Full lections can be read here.

Based on the Readings as Set

First Reading (Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20)

The Ten Commandments are given for the first time as Yahweh speaks to Moses and Aaron on Mt. Sinai. These laws spell out the basics of how the people of Israel are to live in their relationships with their God, and with other people, providing divine boundaries for their conduct. The thunder and lightning etc. that issue from the heights, signify Yahweh’s presence and are meant to inspire compliance with his Law.

Psalm (19)

This meditation on the Law likens it to the awesome effect of the sun upon the earth each morning: as it revives the earth the Law revives the soul, allowing humankind to flourish. It brings to light what is right and enlightens us to see what is wrong. It even penetrates the dark recesses of our souls and exposes unknown errors. The Psalmist, desiring to be right with God, embraces and delights in his Law.

Second Reading (Philippians 3:4b-14)

St. Paul has come to the realization that his “fleshly” qualifications under the Law, while to his benefit, are mere rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection. Righteousness is from God and based on faith in Christ, not on our own efforts to satisfy the Law. Out of this reality Paul presses on for the prize of the heavenly call.

Gospel (Matthew 21:33-46)

Jesus tells Jewish leaders a parable about a landowner who gave his vineyard well-defended boundaries and everything needed to flourish and then rented it out while he went away. When he sent servants to collect his share of the harvest they were beaten or killed by the tenants. Finally he sent his son but even he was killed. When Jesus says another people will inherit the kingdom his listeners angrily realize that he is talking about how the nation had treated both himself and all of God’s prophets.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • Divine boundaries are for our flourishing
  • Sin is destructive in its effect
  • The history of Israel demonstrates humanity’s inability to achieve righteousness through its own efforts
  • Christ is the key to God’s plan and eclipses all that came before
  • Righteousness is a gift and a blessing

Based on the Alternative Set of Readings

First Reading (Isaiah 5:1-7)

Isaiah relates the parable of how his “beloved” had planted a vineyard on a fertile hill guarded over by a watchtower, taking great care to see that it flourished. However it only yielded wild grapes, causing him to plan for its destruction by removing its defenses and allowing it to be trampled into waste ground. Isaiah says this is really about how Yahweh had established Israel expecting it to yield justice and righteousness but it had failed miserably.

Psalm (80:7-15)

The Psalmist yearns for Yahweh to restore the nation and save it from destruction. He points out that Israel was Yahweh’s own planting and it had flourished exceedingly for a time. So why have its protective walls been destroyed enabling it to be trampled by wild beasts?

Second Reading (Philippians 3:4b-14)

St. Paul has come to the realization that his “fleshly” qualifications under the Law, while to his benefit, are mere rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection. Righteousness is from God and based on faith in Christ, not on our own efforts to satisfy the Law. Out of this reality Paul presses on for the prize of the heavenly call.

Gospel (Matthew 21:33-46)

Jesus tells Jewish leaders a parable about a landowner who gave his vineyard well-defended boundaries and everything needed to flourish and then rented it out while he went away. When he sent servants to collect his share of the harvest they were beaten or killed by the tenants. Finally he sent his son but even he was killed. When Jesus says another people will inherit the kingdom his listeners angrily realize that he is talking about how the nation had treated both himself and all of God’s prophets.

CONNECTION SUGGESTIONS

  • The history of Israel demonstrates humanity’s inability to achieve righteousness through its own efforts
  • God’s plan is for his people and all of humanity to flourish
  • Jesus Christ is the answer to Israel’s cries for God’s salvation
  • The history of Israel is critical to the understanding of the mission and ministry of Jesus