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What follows are the readings for the Twenty-fourth Sunday of Pentecost, November 4, 2018.

These are for Year B in the three-year Lectionary cycle.

There are two sets of first readings and Psalms. I have given the second selections blue subheadings below. Emphases mine throughout.

Today’s readings are uplifting, pointing to the knowledge and wisdom of faith.

First reading

This is the moving story of Naomi and Ruth, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, joined together in faith and love of the Lord.

Ruth 1:1-18

1:1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons.

1:2 The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.

1:3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.

1:4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years,

1:5 both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

1:6 Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had considered his people and given them food.

1:7 So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah.

1:8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.

1:9 The LORD grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud.

1:10 They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”

1:11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?

1:12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons,

1:13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the LORD has turned against me.”

1:14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

1:15 So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

1:16 But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

1:17 Where you die, I will die– there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”

1:18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

Psalm

The Psalm lists the joy and blessings that God brings to those who follow Him. Verse 3 is another favourite of mine.

Psalm 146

146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

146:2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,

146:6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;

146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

146:8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

146:9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

146:10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

First reading

Verse 4 is the opening line to the Jewish prayer, the Shema, the first prayer that Jewish children learn. The Shema is comprised of Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It is said regularly in synagogue as well as at home. Verse 9 is the reason why observant Jews have on their front doorframes a mezuzah, a small container with two Scripture passages, those from the Shema and, another prayer, the Vehaya (Deuteronomy 11:13-21). Common among Orthodox Jewish men is the tefillin — phylacteries — commanded in verse 8. The tefillin, a small box with Scripture verses, is affixed to the forehead during prayer and a leather strap is bound to the hand and forearm.

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

6:1 Now this is the commandment–the statutes and the ordinances–that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy,

6:2 so that you and your children and your children’s children, may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long.

6:3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.

6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.

6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

6:6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.

6:7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

6:8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead,

6:9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Psalm

The Psalm discusses the happiness the faithful have in obeying God’s commandments.

Psalm 119:1-8

119:1 Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.

119:2 Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart,

119:3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.

119:4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.

119:5 O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

119:6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

119:7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances.

119:8 I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

Epistle

Readings continue from the Book of Hebrews, which John MacArthur says was written in 68 AD, two years before the destruction of the Temple. He says it was intended as a final warning to convert. It’s a beautiful book which perfectly explains why Jesus Christ is the eternal High Priest, the promised Messiah.

Hebrews 9:11-14

9:11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),

9:12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified,

9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

Gospel

This passage from Mark alludes to the aforementioned verses from Deuteronomy 6. The scribe written about below understood.

Mark 12:28-34

12:28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

12:29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;

12:30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

12:31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

12:32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’;

12:33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ –this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

12:34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Verses 29 and 30 are in the short version of the Ten Commandments prayer at the beginning of the Anglican Holy Communion service.

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