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Bible GenevaThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

1 Corinthians 7:17-19

Live as You Are Called

17 Only let each person lead the life[a] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.

———————————————————————————————

Last week’s verses were Paul’s guidelines for marriage, including between a Christian and a non-Christian.

We now begin looking at Paul’s advice to Jews and Gentiles who have converted to Christianity. The Jewish men were circumcised. The Gentile men were not.

Paul begins by saying that he has a rule for all the churches: God has called us to a certain place in life and we do not need to worry about that when we become Christians (verse 17). Following Christ is about spiritual renewal and our relationship with Him as individuals.

Matthew Henry’s commentary states (emphases mine):

As the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. Whatever his circumstances or condition was when he was converted to Christianity, let him abide therein, and suit his conversation to it. The rules of Christianity reach every condition. And in every state a man may live so as to be a credit to it. Note, It is the duty of every Christian to suit his behaviour to his condition and the rules of religion, to be content with his lot, and conduct himself in his rank and place as becomes a Christian. The apostle adds that this was a general rule, to be observed at all times and in all places; So ordain I in all churches.

In Paul’s time, the Church was made up of Jews and Gentiles alike. For the men, Paul said that the Jews, ‘already circumcised’, did not need to worry that they were. Similarly, a Gentile man did not need to think he had to become circumcised (verse 18).

God and His Son know our starting points in this life along the Christian journey. What matters is not where we’ve come from but where we are going.

John MacArthur says that Paul brought circumcision into the picture because there were social effects at that time for Jewish men who converted to Christianity:

A Jew comes to Christ; he gets saved. Who would be the most likely person that he then could lead to Christ? Another Jew, right? And somebody in his own family. So, if a Jew comes to Christ, and immediately renounces his Judaism … and totally identify with the Gentile culture, what are his Jewish friends going to say? They’re going to call him a what? Blasphemer, an apostate who isn’t fit for heaven … And he would immediately alienate himself from the harvest field that he is most capable of reaping in. You see?

So, Paul says, “Don’t do that.”

MacArthur contrasts the views then with those of our time, where a more relaxed view about Jewish conversions to Christianity prevails:

They get saved, and they don’t reject their Jewishness. They hold onto their Jewishness, and this gives them accessibility back into the Jewish community, doesn’t it? They have an open door maybe to friends and family when they maintain something of the belief and the love of the Jewish heritage, even though they have seen it fulfilled in Messiah, there’s no reason to assume that they have to deny all of that heritage. To deny it and become a Gentile would alienate them from the harvest field that God would give them the most fruit in.

I think that might be more true in North America than it is in Europe. I’m not sure European Jews converting to Christianity would still be warmly received by their own families and circle of friends. However, I could be mistaken. We have very actively Jewish communities in Britain, especially among the younger generations. I live in one such neighbourhood.

As for the situation with Gentile men converting in Corinth, perhaps Paul saw the possibility that some of the Jewish converts were Judaizers trying to convince the Gentiles to get circumcised: entering the New Covenant through the Old Covenant.

MacArthur says:

Some Gentiles came to Christ. And what would the Jews say? “Oh, it’s so nice that you’ve come to Christ. But listen, if you want to get in on the really great stuff in the kingdom, you got to have this operation.”

In addition, a Gentile man’s circumcision would have alienated him from his family and friends:

The Gentiles looked down on the circumcision and the Jews as a despised people. They really believed that the Jews were a low-class, despised people. Now, to identify with the Jews, then, would have alienated a Gentile from – what? – from all his people. And, you see, then he would have alienated himself from the harvest field that God had designed him to reach. Do you see the point? God says, “Just stay where you are; that’s where I have your for the reason that I have you there, to reach those people. Don’t worry about your social status. It doesn’t matter.”

For those reasons, Paul said that circumcision doesn’t count but obeying God’s commandments through Jesus does (verse 19).

Both the Old and the New Testaments are full of stories of disobedient Jews, all of whom, since Abraham, were circumcised. In the New Testament, the culprits were the Sanhedrin, who, with the help of the Romans, eventually ensured that Jesus died on the Cross. The Sanhedrin perversely hounded our Lord from the beginning of His ministry until the very end.

As Henry points out:

External observances without internal piety are as nothing.

MacArthur says:

The only issue is a moral issue, a spiritual issue, not an external.

The bigger issues — which still resonate today — come in next week’s reading, which is why I selected these verses to discuss separately.

Next time — 1 Corinthians 7:20-24

Below are the readings for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, January 31, 2021.

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

This particular Sunday is also known traditionally as Septuagesima Sunday, marking 70 days before Easter. It is also the beginning of Shrovetide, which concludes on Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday.

Centuries ago, some Christians began their Lenten disciplines during Shrovetide. A number of traditionalists, not only in the Catholic Church but also the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Church, also observe the pre-Lenten Sundays counting down to Easter: Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima.

My posts which follow discuss these Sundays and Shrovetide in more detail:

Shrovetide — a history

The Sundays before Lent — an explanation (the Sundays that define Shrovetide)

Emphases mine below.

First reading

Moses relates what the Lord told him. From the midst of His people, the Lord promises His people a prophet above all others: Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 18:15-20

18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.

18:16 This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”

18:17 Then the LORD replied to me: “They are right in what they have said.

18:18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.

18:19 Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.

18:20 But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak–that prophet shall die.”

Psalm

This short Psalm of David’s was likely used in communal worship, reflecting on God’s infinite glory, power and mercy. Verse 10 will be familiar to most readers.

Psalm 111

111:1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

111:2 Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.

111:3 Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.

111:4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the LORD is gracious and merciful.

111:5 He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.

111:6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.

111:7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

111:8 They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

111:9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.

111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.

Epistle

Paul discusses weaker and stronger brothers in faith, a topic that he wrote about extensively in Romans. If a weaker Christian is offended by something that a stronger Christian does, i.e. eating meat sacrificed to idols, then it is incumbent upon the stronger Christian not to do it in his presence or force him to do so. The weaker Christian, if forced to partake of an activity that he finds offensive, could suffer an interminable pang of conscience and could even leave the faith.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

8:1 Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

8:2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge;

8:3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.

8:4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.”

8:5 Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as in fact there are many gods and many lords–

8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

8:7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

8:8 “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.

8:9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

8:10 For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols?

8:11 So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.

8:12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

8:13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Gospel

Readings from Mark continue. This is what happened after Jesus began calling His disciples.

Mark 1:21-28

1:21 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.

1:22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

1:23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,

1:24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

1:25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

1:26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

1:27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching–with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

1:28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

May all of my readers enjoy a blessed Sunday.

While I was catching up on Joe Biden news, I happened across a video from Brian Kilmeade from Fox News who interviewed American entrepreneur Dave Portnoy.

Portnoy has instituted The Barstool Fund, named after his own clothing business, Barstool Sports, to help businesses struggling during the coronavirus crisis.

Portnoy started the fund himself and since then, Americans — especially millionaires and celebrities — have been donating to it.

Portnoy has no extra staff to administer the fund, by the way. Currently, it has approximately $30 million to donate.

When applying, a business owner sends in a video of himself explaining the business travails he has encountered over the past year. Including views of the business in the video helps.

Portnoy then decides where to give the money and says, ‘Once you’re in you’re in … You’re put on a monthly plan.’ The business owner asks for what he needs and Portnoy supplies the funding.

Here is Brian Kilmeade’s video from January 22, which includes Parts 1 and 2:

Portnoy only started his fund in December 2020.

Part 2 shows him with the owner of Johny’s sandwich bar in New York City. The proprietor lost his father around the time Portnoy set up the Barstool Fund. The proprietor found out about the fund on Christmas Eve and sent in a video with his request for help.

On Christmas Day, Portnoy rang him to give him some very good news. Since then, after having been closed for five months, Johny’s now has an outdoor dining area.

It’s heartening to know that people can pull together to help each other and give each other real hope during such a depressing time.

The Democrats’ message is unity.

However, veteran pollster and political consultant Frank Luntz found out the hard way that this is unlikely.

He conducted a focus group asking them for their reactions about the socio-political scene in the United States right now. He was shocked at the reactions he got from both Trump and Biden voters.

He went on several television channels in the US as well as the BBC to warn about the dangers of division in English-speaking countries.

Here is a compilation of what he spoke about, along with clips from the focus group panel:

This is the full focus group session (26 minutes long). It falls apart within the first three minutes, although by the end, everyone agrees on a coronavirus exit plan and that Wall Street’s excesses must be curbed:

Luntz said that he doesn’t want to do focus group work anymore. He’ll probably change his mind, but this session was most unexpected for him.

He said that he isn’t sure how long it will take for the United States to reunite in spirit.

He noted that it took 50 years after the Civil War for the nation to come together as one. He says that Americans could be looking at a similar time frame today.

I hope that everyone who could have helped former President Trump to set the election fraud straight is happy.

That includes Mike Pence and the Supreme Court.

Oh, my apologies. They do not care one jot for ordinary Americans. So, everything’s okay.

I didn’t think it was possible for the greatest nation in the world to go down the tubes so quickly.

Yet, that is where America is headed at breakneck speed.

Inauguration Day

YouTube viewers did not care about the inauguration on Wednesday, January 20. In fact, they registered their displeasure (H/T patriots.win, formerly thedonald.win):

Not many attended:

Freshman congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) observed:

By Friday, she filed articles of impeachment against him:

Tucker Carlson studied Biden’s inaugural speech:

On the one hand, he notes, Biden spoke of ‘unity’. On the other hand, he also spoke of a new ‘war’ on domestic extremism, which encompasses white supremacy. Tucker says that on the face of it, that’s great, until one drills down to see what it really means. He spoke of his own show, which started only a few years ago. Six months after it began, Tucker Carlson Tonight was labelled a white supremacist broadcast. Tucker and his young staffers were shocked. Fortunately, the furore died down and it went on to become one of Fox News’s best rated shows. Tucker concludes that it has to do with a belief in God, our Creator, who loves all of us equally, regardless of our race, creed or colour. By contrast, Tucker pointed out that Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung were atheists. People who believed in God were targeted under their regimes. Believers in God could be targets under the Biden administration for believing that we are all created equal.

The Conservative Woman featured Tucker’s video and commented:

IT WAS fitting, as more than one commentator has pointed out, that the only people at the Biden inauguration yesterday were politicians, journalists, rich donors and the Hollywood elite. The spectacle of the Clintons, Bushes and Obamas congratulating the new President spelt out two things:

A return to the swamp.

The President of which is a sick man, as everyone knows but no one is saying.

Except for Tucker Carlson.

Equally worrying in his important monologue is that the US now has a party in power ‘that is demonising half the country’.

After the inauguration, Biden wasted no time in signing a coronavirus mask mandate on federal lands.

Later, he and his family went to the Lincoln Memorial to remember those who have died from coronavirus. Note, no masks and no social distancing:

That night, there were fireworks:

The Bidens held a party:

That day, rioting broke out in some American cities. Those involved were not Trump supporters, but the usual anarchists. To Biden, they were an ‘idea’ during the campaign. Freshman congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) remembers:

In New York City, they attacked the Democratic National Committee office:

Portland demonstrators made it clear they did not like Biden:

The next day

On Thursday, January 21, Biden signed his first executive orders at a press conference. If true, shocking, but it does sound as if Biden is saying he doesn’t know what he’s signing:

More on the EOs below.

This is the sort of hardline questioning one can expect in the new administration:

Hundreds of comments followed the following video — all direct quotes from Biden during his 48-year political career and the campaign. Unfortunately, they are now unavailable as comments have been turned off. I remember when a court forbade former President Trump from blocking people replying to his tweets because he was a public figure. Hmm:

Biden was unimpressed with the AP’s Zeke Miller who asked about something other than Biden’s favourite flavour of ice cream. Biden short circuited the press conference then and there:

Kamala Harris was taken aback. Her:

body language was surprising. She looked almost frightened of Joe. Like a wife who walks on eggshells around her husband. The old bastard won’t relinquish power as easily as they thought.

Earlier, he made his support for Dr Fauci clear. Less clear was Biden’s own position. He still thought he was on the campaign trail:

Fauci’s line hasn’t changed:

This was interesting:

And did Fauci really say the following? I haven’t been able to find an original source, but it sounds plausible:

I TOOK NO PLEASURE IN CONTRADICTING TRUMP WHEN HE WAS IN OFFICE, NOR DO I TAKE PLEASURE CONTRADICTING MY PREVIOUS DECISIONS NOW THAT BIDEN IS IN OFFICE

Unbelievably, Fauci has worked in the same post for 37 years. Good grief:

Speaking of coronavirus, Biden’s press secretary quickly batted away a question from a reporter asking why the Bidens were not wearing masks when they commemorated the COVID dead at the Lincoln Memorial, despite his mask mandate on federal lands.

She didn’t care:

Coronavirus rules do not apply to the Bidens. They apply to YOU.

Also, hydroxychloroquine is suddenly okay. Remember when former President Trump recommended it last year?

Executive orders

Not surprisingly, Biden is quickly undoing former President Trump’s excellent and careful work for the American people:

A conservative British educator and political advisor, Calvin Robinson, agrees. He also criticised Biden’s call for unity, which, he says, will end with more division. You can see his concise talkRADIO interview below:

As Biden pledged during the campaign — whether he remembers it or not — he will be ending fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline:

It is hard to disagree with the next two tweets:

Juanita Broaddrick, who knew Bill Clinton during his time as Arkansas governor, is one of Trump’s biggest fans. She also predicts more bad news from the Biden administration:

It looks as if Biden fancies an international conflict, something happily missing from the Trump years:

Oh, yes, Jack, we are paying attention.

We also noticed:

Tucker Carlson has a superb analysis of those two measures and says flatly that they do not benefit Americans:

Then, there is the Paris Agreement. Trump pulled out of it and Biden has now signed back on.

Freshman congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) tweeted:

She believes that Biden wants to rule rather than work with the House and the Senate:

Wow, this is unbelievable:

Conclusion

I’ll end with this:

For once, words fail me.

Please pray for the people of the United States and the future of the Great Republic, partially restored by President Trump.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a plan for President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

He has discussed it with Senate Majority Leader Chuck ‘Six ways from Sunday’ Schumer.

Schumer indirectly told Trump on a Sunday news show early in 2017 that American intelligence agencies had ‘six ways from Sunday’ to ruin his presidency.

Earlier this month, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi successfully led the House of Representatives to impeach Trump a second time.

The Senate must hold a trial to confirm that impeachment or to acquit America’s 45th president. Fortunately, when the Republicans had a majority in the Senate, they voted to acquit his first impeachment.

This was what McConnell had to say last week:

I’m not sure how Trump can be impeached post-presidency, as he is once again a private citizen, but if the Senate, with its very slim Dem majority, votes to do so, then it would ensure that he could not run for re-election in 2024.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) agrees with McConnell’s plan:

There is no way Joe Biden would reject calls for a second impeachment trial.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer got such a thrill over announcing impeachment proceedings that he made a major Freudian slip:

More details follow:

Trump already has his lawyer:

I wonder if Lindsey Graham recommended him.

Late last week, The Independent reported:

South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers has reportedly been named as Donald Trump’s impeachment lawyer.

Senator Lindsey Graham announced the news on a call with Republican members of the upper chamber of Congress, according to a report by Punchbowl News, confirmed by other outlets.

Mr Bowers will defend the former president in his second impeachment trial before the US Senate. He has previously served as counsel for three governors of South Carolina — Nikki Haley, Henry McMaster and Mark Sanford — and has experience in impeachment, ethics, voter ID and campaign cases.

The poor man:

Many of Mr Trump’s previous legal representatives have distanced themselves from him following his role in inciting the mob who stormed the US Capitol on 6 January.

The legal team from Mr Trump’s first impeachment either declined to represent him again or said they had no interest in doing so.

Mr Bowers has a wide range of experience relevant to Mr Trump’s legal issues …

He stands alone (emphasis mine):

Rudy Giuliani has said he cannot represent his client as he qualifies as a witness to the events leading up to the storming of the Capitol. Former Trump legal advisers Pat Cipollone, Jay Sekulow, Pam Bondi, and Eric Herschmann have all distanced themselves from the new impeachment.

There is no schedule yet for Mr Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial.

Mr Bowers works as part of the Miller Law Group and currently serves in the South Carolina Air National Guard and holds the rank of Colonel.

Let’s consider this, however:

And this (H/T patriot.win, formerly thedonald.win):

And this:

On Tuesday, January 19, Nigel Farage gave an interview to Sky News Australia. He issued a warning to the Republicans that voting to impeach Trump a second time would severely damage their party, especially among Trump voters, who are now the core voters in the party:

Farage fully understands the situation and he doesn’t even live in the US.

Trump entered the 2016 campaign alone in 2015, vilified from the start.

He ended his presidency in 2021 that same way: alone and even more vilified.

I will continue praying for the former president. May God continue to give him the strength he so needs at this time.

What a great start to the Biden presidency.

Have we heard from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on this?

No. We heard from the Republican Leader of the House, who voiced his disgust:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) at least took action.

Tens of thousands of troops, mostly National Guard, were sent to Washington, DC, to keep the capital safe before, during and after the inauguration, held on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

Some of the troops were allowed to sleep in parts of the Capitol building, then, because Congress was in session after the inauguration, they were moved to a parking garage:

On January 21, Chad Pergram from Fox News reported:

Texas governor Greg Abbott (R) was so incensed, he requested that General Norris send the Texas contingent home:

Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) also asked for his state’s troops to return home:

The outrage was intense, because the troops were accommodated elsewhere by the next day:

The National Guard have day jobs in their home states, so, understandably, they were unimpressed with having been left out in the cold during mobilisation. Howard Altman, managing editor of the Military Times, reported:

Here are other reactions:

It is unclear who issued the order to move them to the parking garage:

Later, it was alleged that a Democrat congressman from Massachusetts wanted the troops out because they weren’t wearing masks at a nearby Dunkin Donuts:

Disgusting.

Here’s more:

Legislators from both sides of the aisle worked to right the wrong.

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema (R-Arizona) offered her office to the troops:

Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina), a freshman Congressman, personally delivered pizzas:

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), a military veteran who lost her legs in combat, worked tirelessly to make sure the decision was reversed:

Politico has more on the story but no real conclusions.

On Friday, January 22, Biden tried to make amends, but it was a lame gesture:

I am very glad this did not happen during President Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

In case you are wondering what he thought:

And, former President Trump also offered them accommodation:

Well, he was certainly the greatest president we will ever know.

Today’s commentary is a repost of St Paul’s verses on marriage, which I wrote in 2010:

1 Corinthians 7:1-16 – marriage, marriage to non-Christians

Paul discusses the reasons for marriage and preserving a marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian.

Last week’s post on unrighteousness is here.

Next time — 1 Corinthians 7:17-19

Below are the readings for the Third Sunday after Epiphany, January 24, 2021.

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

Emphases below are mine.

First reading

After having been in the belly of the whale for three days for refusing to preach to the Gentiles at Nineveh, Jonah was washed up on land. God gave him a second chance to carry out His command. A humbled Jonah obeyed this time. Matthew Henry’s commentary has an excellent exposition on Nineveh — it was the largest city in the Ancient World at that time, positively massive. It is unfortunate that the Lectionary editors left out the part where the king of the city helped greatly by declaring a royal decree to don not only sackcloth and ashes but also fast. He also abided by that decree. I have included the missing verses (highlighted in purple). The irony with this story is that God gave Israel many prophets, who were persecuted and ignored, yet, this pagan city and its king repented immediately with one visit from Jonah.

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

3:1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying,

3:2 “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”

3:3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across.

3:4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

3:5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

The word reached[a] the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water,

but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.

9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

3:10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

Psalm

In this Psalm, David confidently proclaims his trust in the Lord.

Psalm 62:5-12

62:5 For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.

62:6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

62:7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

62:9 Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.

62:10 Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

62:11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,

62:12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.

Epistle

1 Corinthians 7 is about Christian marriage. That said, Paul takes great pains to point out that marriage is but a temporal state and that we should always have our hearts and minds on the world to come, our home in Heaven.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

7:29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none,

7:30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions,

7:31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Gospel

Last week’s reading from John described how Jesus called Philip and Nathanael to be His disciples. In today’s reading from Mark, Jesus calls two more sets of brothers to join him: Simon Peter and Andrew as well as John (the Gospel writer) and James, the sons of Zebedee. John in verse 14 is John the Baptist.

Mark 1:14-20

1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,

1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

1:16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen.

1:17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

1:18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

1:19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.

1:20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

I still prefer ‘fishers of men’ (verse 17), which actually includes both sexes, but we are not allowed that usage anymore.

Have a blessed Sunday.

On Monday, January 18, 2021, former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption appeared on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s talkRADIO show to discuss the perils of lockdown:

From early last year, Lord Sumption has been a calm, rational opponent of lockdown.

Breitbart has a summary of the three-minute interview clip. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

I am pleased that his stance has not changed:

Lord Sumption, who last month branded lockdowns “profoundly immoral” and “useless”, told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer on Monday: “We are in the process of turning a public health crisis into an economic, social, and educational disaster.

We didn’t have to do this. One of the problems is that the government has never been prepared at least to acknowledge that it is necessary to weigh up one thing against another. We cannot have both: lockdown and a prosperous economy. The fact is that no country ever managed to reduce deaths by making itself poorer.”

He warned that this will have a long-term, generational effect:

Lord Sumption continued: “What we have is a lot of people in this country that because they are frightened, or in the case of the government because they are manipulative, are only prepared to look at part of what is actually a very complicated problem.

You can’t just look at it as a public health issue because it’s a major economic issue. I’m not talking just about the prosperity of businesses, I’m talking about jobs, and how a generation of young people entering the job market is entering a void and the consequences of that are terrible.

It’s going to live with them for years and years. Long after we’ve forgotten about COVID, they’ll be suffering from the consequences of this. The problem is that emotion is a tool for avoiding difficult choices and the idea that there are no difficult choices — in this case, that the answer is simply to lock down — is frankly absurd.”

Using independent sources, Breitbart supports Lord Sumption’s views about the economy and about the effect on NHS services in other areas:

A survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that it is expected that around a quarter of a million small businesses will collapse as a result of the lockdown this year.

Reports since the beginning of the lockdowns have also revealed the cost to the nation’s wider wellbeing as NHS hospitals prioritised COVID care and cancelled other services, including a fall in chemotherapy attendance and early cancer referrals, and people dying on transplant waiting lists. There has also been a rise in people feeling depressed or suicidal.

The following graph shows that lockdown was — and is — not necessary. It shows deaths in England between 1971 and 2020. There was hardly an uptick last year:

Image

LBC’s talk radio show presenter Maajid Nawaz has also been an outspoken opponent of lockdown.

Last Sunday, he put together an exhaustive thread — excerpts of which follow — about the dangers of lockdown worldwide, especially for children:

Lockdown is made for the middle class a) who have houses with gardens and b) who never have to worry about losing their jobs — public sector employees:

Ten months on, this is a never-ending downward spiral, where the rules change every few weeks and are often contradictory. More on that in another post.

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