November – Adopting a sense of humility
November 5, 2017
Jos 3:7-17 / Ps 107:1-7, 33-37 1 / Thes 2:9-13 / Mt 23:1-12
This is the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost. Can you remember back to Pentecost this year? What did you experience? How did you learn to be the Church better? How have you worked to learn and grow in your faith and discipleship in this the long season of living the way of Jesus? The Gospel reading is another example of Jesus serving it up to the religious elite. If we remember back to Matthew Chapters 5-7, way back in the Season of Epiphany, then we might recall the exacting standards of living that Jesus holds us to. This week he adds to his teaching about the need to guard against hypocrisy and any sense of self-righteousness. We need to adopt a sense of humility, and to all this, he also sprinkles in some provocative statements about naming teachers, fathers and being called instructors. The way of the cross is not an easy road and the Christ we follow calls us to an all-in commitment in response to the love and grace of God who calls all to join in working for God’s commonwealth of the common good.
November 12, 2017
Jos 24:1-3a, 14-25 / Ps 78:1-7 1 / Thes 4:13-18 / Mt 25:1-13
What a heavy set of readings this week. “You cannot serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He will not forgive your transgressions or your sins,” if you turn from God and worship idols or other Gods declares Joshua to the tribes of Israel. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the Parable of the Ten Virgins/Maidens. All were invited and prepared to meet the Bridegroom, but half weren’t prepared and missed the coming of the bridegroom as they sought to make up for their error. However, when they turned up, they had missed the opportunity and were denied entry. “Keep awake, therefore, for you do neither know the day or the hour.” How have we lived in the past year? Are we prepared? Might we have fallen asleep to a degree, and therefore what might we need to awaken to? These are weighty questions of faith and discipleship to consider.
November 19, 2017
Jgs 4:1-7 / Ps 123 / 1 Thes 5:1-11 / Mt 25:14-30
Here we have the Parable of the Talents. What do you think you know about this? It is good to look at it again. Firstly, a talent is a large weight or measure. The master just hands over great wealth to the servants with no instruction. The servants seem to be just expected to know what to do. So, they respond in kind to their understanding of their master. Most of us know how things turn out. Two apply their gifts, skills and strengths to increasing the master’s wealth as a living out of what has been entrusted to them. One of course, in fear, buries what was given and can only return it at the end with a justification that speaks of the master in complete contradiction of how the master has been almost recklessly generous and trusting. Once more there is weeping and gnashing of teeth for the one who fails. So what should we make of this? God doesn’t so much give us talents to use, but lavishes us with trust and opportunity to use the riches of God to increase them. The talent is the opportunity, but what are the riches? Are they not the good things of the Spirit, love joy, peace etc.? Are they not grace, forgiveness, compassion? Are they not justice, mercy and reconciliation? Christ went away and in the Spirit, after Pentecost, we have these riches entrusted to us. What have we done with them this season of Pentecost or past liturgical year?
November 26 2017
Ez 34:11-16, 20-24 / Ps 100 / Eph 1:15-23 / Mt 25:31-46
The liturgical year ends. We celebrate Christ the King, before we return to a season of reflection and a waiting on hope, peace, love and joy as we remember the power of the incarnation of God in Jesus, the Christ. It is fitting at the end of the Church year that we have the parable of the King who sorts people like a shepherd sorts sheep from the goats. We know and proclaim a salvation by faith and not works, but this parable of Jesus goes close to contravening such an understanding, if taken by itself, because it suggest how we live to be crucial to our salvation. So, at the end of another liturgical year, we might ask ourselves as prepare to remember the meaning of the Incarnation, how have we embodied Christ to the world? How have we allowed the grace and love of God expressed in Jesus to percolate and permeate all that we are and do? How has the Gospel that we have received from the Word of God who is Jesus, transformed our living – in other words have we been able to better feed the hungry, served the thirsty, been hospitable to the strange, clothed the naked and cared for the sick or those imprisoned? If not, then we need to better connect again with God and God’s love so that we might in turn love as we have been loved and love others as we love ourselves. There is always work to do as preparation for the coming of the Christ.
Rev Jon Humphries is the Chaplain and Religious Education Teacher at Ravenswood School for Girls