Below are the readings for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, August 16, 2020.

These are for Year A in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two options for the First Reading and Psalm.

Emphases below are mine.

First Reading and Psalm — Option One

In this season of Trinity, this choice of first readings has focused on Abraham and his descendants. Last week, we had the story of Joseph’s brothers selling him to the Ishmaelites. (Ishmael was Abraham’s illegitimate son by Hagar, his servant. Ishmael became the father of the Arab people.) Today’s reading describes what took place some time later. Joseph was in charge of Pharaoh’s grain stores, which were full, thanks to his careful management. A famine ensued, but Joseph continued to maintain a goodly supply of grain. Jacob had told his other sons to move to Egypt temporarily so that they and their families could be fed. Joseph encountered his brothers, who were slaves. A tearful reconciliation took place.

Genesis 45:1-15

45:1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers.

45:2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.

45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

45:4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.

45:5 And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

45:6 For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

45:7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.

45:8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

45:9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.

45:10 You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have.

45:11 I will provide for you there–since there are five more years of famine to come–so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.

45:12 And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you.

45:13 You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.”

45:14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck.

45:15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

The Psalm verses fit perfectly with the story of Jacob’s sons reconciling with Joseph.

Psalm 133

133:1 How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!

133:2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.

133:3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

First Reading and Psalm — Option Two

With God’s promise of salvation comes responsibility from the faithful: to honour Him and humanity.

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

56:1 Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.

56:6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant

56:7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

56:8 Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.

The Psalm follows the theme of Jew and Gentile worshipping the one Lord of all creation.

Psalm 67

67:1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

67:2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

67:3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

67:4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

67:5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

67:6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.

67:7 May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.

Epistle

This complex reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans says that God has not rejected the Jews fully because of their unbelief. He has brought Gentiles into the promise for the Jews, despite their previous pagan ways. Therefore, God will show mercy to those who repent of their ways. Romans 11 is worth a series of sermons. I doubt whether many clergy are up to that these days.

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

11:1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

11:2a God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.

11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

11:30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,

11:31 so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.

11:32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

Gospel

The Pharisees and scribes took issue with the disciples’ not washing their hands before they ate. Jesus replied that the Jewish elders were guilty of far greater sins; they twisted the commandment to honour one’s mother and father such that it became ‘void of God’. Verse 14 will be very familiar to everyone. Jesus then gathered the crowd to listen to His lesson on what defiles a person. Afterwards, he healed a Gentile woman’s daughter from a distance and blessed the mother for her faith.

Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

15:10 Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:

15:11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”

15:12 Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”

15:13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.

15:14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”

15:15 But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”

15:16 Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding?

15:17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?

15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.

15:19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.

15:20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

15:21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.

15:22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”

15:23 But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”

15:24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

15:25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

15:26 He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

15:27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

15:28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

I fear that we are becoming Pharisaical in some of our secular beliefs, turning ourselves into hypocrites. We are too concerned with what goes into our mouths yet we tolerate all manner of sin, things previous generations would never have countenanced. Jesus gives us a strong message in the Gospel. May we heed His words.