Eighth Sunday after Trinity

EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

Proper 13

 

 

Readings:

 

The Church celebrates St Martha on 29th July, so today there is a choice of readings to follow:

 

 

Proper 13                                                                         Mary, Martha, Lazarus,

                                                                                          Companions of Our Lord

Genesis 32:22-31                                                             Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 17                                                                            Psalm 49

Romans 9:1-5                                                                   Luke 10:38-42       

Matthew 14:13-21                                       

 

 

Collect:

Proper 13

Almighty Lord and everlasting God,

we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern

both our hearts and bodies

in the ways of your laws

and the works of your commandments;

that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever,

we may be preserved in body and soul;

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

 

Some Thoughts and Reflections

 

St Martha’s Patronal Day

 

Today we celebrate St Martha on the Hill and we pray the Festival Collect:

 

Almighty God,

To whose glory we celebrate this house of prayer on the hill:

we praise you for the many blessings

you have given to those who worship you here:

and we pray that all who seek you in this place may find you,

and, being filled with the Holy Spirit,

may become a living temple acceptable to you,

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

The Church celebrates Martha along with her sister, Mary and brother, Lazarus; together known as companions of the Lord.

Companions – lit. those who share bread together.

 

Luke’s story (Luke 10:38-42) highlights the idea of this little family providing a place where Jesus could go to eat, to relax and to rest – and we hear of Martha’s generous hospitality.

 

 

But, let us go back a bit and see what we can hear if we are able to truly listen

 

Immediately before this passage in Luke we hear what has become known as

the ‘parable of the good Samaritan’, so it would seem that the little vignette about Jesus visiting Mary, Martha and Lazarus is a way of exploring the good Samaritan parable: an everyday example, as it were, of the way the parable might be lived.

 

The parable is told in response to a question by a lawyer – that is, a devoutly religious man, who, like many such people can become concerned that they are doing the ‘right’ things, according to the teaching of their religion.

 

If I am to care for my neighbour, he asks, who, then, is my neighbour?

 

“Your neighbour”, says Jesus, “is the one who shows you mercy.”

 

As ever, this parable has a surprising twist, echoed in our little story of Martha and Mary.

 

Of course, the good Samaritan, like Martha, bustling about to take care of her very special guest does the ‘right’ thing and is to be commended but, remember parables go deeper.

 

‘YOUR neighbour is the one who shows YOU mercy’

 

Do you hear the challenge?

 

The story is not about you being the good Samaritan and doing the right thing – that is understood.

 

No, the story is about you as the wounded man (the Christ) lying in the road and your neighbour is the good Samaritan.

 

For, it is in recognising our own woundedness and in connecting that to the wounds of Christ that we can begin to discern our self, neighbour and God and then to enter into the mystery of what Bernard of Clairvaux described as,

 

The love of self for God’s sake.

 

Then, like Mary, we will be content to sit at our Lord’s feet, all concerns about our own righteousness long forgotten.

 

 

Jacob and his mysterious assailant

(Genesis 32:22-31)

 

This story is rich in metaphors that come for folklore fairy tales and fables.

There are many stories about the trials of heroes, the power of sunrise to banish demons and vampires, the power that is gained by knowing an enemy’s hidden name, and so on.

 

The strange thing about the biblical story, though, is the identity of the assailant.

 

For, in this story, the one who sends Jacob out on his mission and the one with whom he has to struggle are one and the same – God.

 

In this story, we have all the classical elements of a rite of passage in both physical and spiritual terms, as Jacob experiences a fundamental change in his own life and through him, change occurs in the life of the whole Israelite community.

 

Jacob said to his assailant,

“I will not let you go unless you bless me”

And Jacob was blessed and, like all who encounter God, he was changed, as symbolised by the change of name.

 

Jacob successfully negotiated his rite of passage, accepting and enduring the challenge involved.

 

So must we.

 

But as with the NT parables, it pays to listen and hear the surprising and unexpected elements in the story.

 

For, the surprising and unexpected element here is the identity of the assailant.

 

God is present at the heart of Jacob’s struggle.

In his wounding, Jacob is blessed.

 

Jacob, like the man lying in the road, like each one of us,

like Christ himself, is wounded.

 

 

THE PEACE

The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.  Amen.

 

 

THE BLESSING

The love of Jesus sustain you,

the joy of Jesus fill you,

the power of Jesus strengthen you;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

 

 

 

Stephanie Sokolowski            2/8/20

 

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