simple white fading png image
notre dame montreal

Sunday worship and lectionary resources

Ordinary 10 Year A


Introduction

Zimbabwe is a country in terrible distress. The economic meltdown has made life intolerable for many people who face daily difficulties just trying to find food. Persecution is a daily fact of life for anybody who opposes the government of Robert Mugabe. Political opponents have been subject to brutal beating and imprisonment. The same persecution has been handed out by the police and government officials to members of the foreign press who try to enter the country and report on what is taking place. The ruling government is afraid, they see their power being threatened and they will stop at nothing to protect their vested interests.

Viktor Yushchenko, became president of Ukraine in November 2004. Backed by millions of protesters in Kiev and other cities he forced the government to hold a repeat ballot -- and won by a wide margin. Yushchenko has become a revolutionary leader in the tradition of Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa. Sadly, Yushchenko suffered what is believed to have been a deadly poison attack which has left his face terribly disfigured. Clearly there were many in authority who resented a revolution and a loss of their power and vested interests. 

So it was that the death of Jesus would also prove very convenient for some. He preached a message of revolution which threatened the ruling Jewish authorities and they were plotting to kill him. Read the passages from Matthew Gospel this week and you will see why. Jesus told his opponents to act with compassion: to treat others, no matter how different they were, with respect and love.

Jesus really did not care if people were good Jews, he was kind and welcoming even to the ones who were considered to be under direct punishment from God. Lepers, sinners, tax collectors he opened the flood gates of God's love to them all and many were determined to keep it firmly shut. Our faith is judged by how good we are at respecting and showing compassion to people whom others reject.

 

Opening Verses of Scripture   Psalm 33:4

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ's sake.  Common Worship

Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails, deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. Common Worship Additional Collect

God, faithful and true, you call every generation to make a pilgrim journey. Guide our feet along the road of faith, that we may put our whole trust in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen  Methodist Worship

Ever-loving God, your Son Jesus Christ healed the sick and restored them to wholeness of life. Look with compassion on the anguish of the world, and by your power make whole both people and nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. Methodist Worship


First Bible Reading  

Hosea 5:15—6:8

Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me."
"Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." "What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Like Adam, they have broken the covenant-- they were unfaithful to me there. Gilead is a city of wicked men, stained with footprints of blood.   (This is the word of the Lord—Thanks be to God)
 

Second Reading  Romans 4:13-25

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness."
The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness--for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


Gospel Reading  Matthew 9:9-13 & 18-26

The Calling of Matthew 
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." 

Jesus Questioned About Fasting 
Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." 

A Dead Girl and a Sick Woman 
While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment. When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region.

 

Post Communion Sentence

Loving Father, we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son: sustain us with your Spirit, that we may serve you here on earth until our joy is complete in heaven, and we share in the eternal banquet with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Commentary

Letting things get out of hand
There are at least two sets of interested parties in today’s reading from Mark. There is Jesus family,
‘…have you seen what your boy is up to now?’ and the religious leaders,
‘…we can’t allow this to continue, He’s leading people astray from our true religion’.

Jesus is clearly causing a bit of a stir in the neighbourhood. It might have been fine if all Jesus was doing was going out in the morning and coming back at night and settling down in front of the fire with his slippers on, reading the paper. But things were not like that, they were beginning to get a bit out of hand. Jesus was beginning to attract a crowd, some of which were probably quite disreputable, who were following him around. They were probably a bit noisy, creating a bit of a mess, coming round the house at all hours of the day and night and generally getting the family a bad reputation. They certainly seemed to be no respecters of time, property or the reputation of the wider family. The family couldn’t even get in their own home at times. They needed to get a grip on things, they were told. You can imagine the people saying to his family
‘You need to get over there’, ‘take charge of Him’, ‘He’s lost it’,

But if the family are concerned because of their reputation and the disturbance that is being caused, the scribes objections are far more fundamental. Perhaps their motivation is just wanting to maintain the way things are, not to upset the Roman authorities and therefore wanting to ‘keep the peace’. But the Scribes were devout and took scripture very seriously. They studied and tried to apply its teaching to their lives and the lives of those for whom they felt they had responsibility. Jesus’ new interpretation did not accord with their own understanding and it therefore needed to be challenged. If it did not align with their own, considered comprehension it must be wrong. Even if good things appear to be happening, it must be for the wrong reasons. And their understanding is that events and outcomes such as they have seen can only come from two places, God or the devil. And if it’s not God it must be the devil, Beelzebub.

Clearly it was serious stuff and needed to be addressed. In response, Jesus points them beyond their theory and learning to the reality of what is happening. People are being healed. People are being released into new freedom of life. Jesus has simply got on with the job of revealing god’s Kingdom. In the Gospel of Mark we see no great proclamation of intentions such as we see in Luke, where Jesus makes explicit His calling to release captives and bring healing and wholeness to those in need. Jesus just gets on with the action. It’s characterised by liberation and wholeness not captivity and fear. How can this be the work of the devil, it just does not make sense. And in making reference to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit Jesus rebuked His accusers, challenging them to reconcile what they have just said about doing things in the name of Beelzebub who seeks to deceive and enmesh and the liberating freedom of the God they teach and worship.

It’s a gentle challenge to His family too, who by inference, must be somewhat complicit with those who think He’s a bit strange, as they rush back to see what is happening. Perhaps they think it’s to protect Him from Himself and any delusions of grandeur and celebrity status or perhaps they just want to sort things out so they don’t cause a fuss in the neighbourhood and upset the neighbours.

For everyone involved the challenge comes because of a different perspective. Jesus can see what it is like to have the Kingdom of God revealed in people’s lives and in the world as a whole. He can see the inward and the eternal. For those watching, they base their understanding on the immediate and the external, the signs they are seeing the words they are hearing. Faith comes when we see beyond the immediate and the external as we catch a glimpse of the inward and eternal. God calls us to look beyond the obvious and the immediate, the things which we think we can understand and invites us to catch a glimpse of His Kingdom. Through the mess and the business which seem to characterise our modern day lives He offers us the opportunity to join with Him in His Father’s work. To be open to do God’s will in a world so much in need of release and freedom. To not be constrained by the worlds perspective and limited understanding of the things that seem important, and of the myriad of limitations that come from such an outlook, but to be free to join with Him in the broad family of the church and its people, and far beyond, to reveal Jesus, the liberator and salvation of the world.


As we see from this story in the gospel of Mark, we don’t even need to make grand statements about what we are doing, or the theological basis for what we are doing. We just need to get on and do it, confident that Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Sam Cappleman

Meditation

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings  Hosea 6:6

Jesus quotes these words from Hosea in the passage from Matthew today. He did so in response to criticism concerning the company  which he kept. The book of Hosea tells of how the prophet Hosea became a living lesson on what the mercy of God was like. Hosea married a prostitute named Gomer and despite her unfaithfulness, bearing children from other men, nevertheless Hosea never failed to show love and devotion and took back his wayward wife. The message was that this was how God behaved towards Israel. Israel behaved badly towards God, nevertheless he never stopped loving them.  In Hebrew the word Hesed, or Chesed is used, it can be translated as “mercy,” “covenant faithfulness,” “kindness,” “loving kindness,” “steadfast love”—it’s all the same word. God was always utterly faithful, when they were faithless. God would be hurt by Israel's lack of fidelity but he could behave no differently because it is his nature to show mercy. Charles Royden

For Christians, the death of Jesus on the cross is the sacrifice that restores our relationship with God. Too often we have a hard time accepting that gift to us and continue to try and make our own sacrifices to earn favour with God. We are called to restore our relationship with God by accepting the gift of the sacrifice of Jesus. By accepting with gratitude, our restored relationship allows us to share that same gift to others in the broken world around us by being merciful to them.

 

Hymns

  1. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness

  2. Give me joy

  3. Lord Jesus Christ

  4. We rest on thee our shield and our defender

  5. Christ is surely coming

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die.

 

Praise to you, O Lord and our God, for the jewel of our sight, the treasure of our hearing, and the glory of our speech. Pardon our ingratitude and teach us to render you a thankful heart. Open our eyes to your glory, our ears to your word and our mouths to proclaim your goodness; now and forever. Amen. Thomas Traherne, 1636-74

We thank you O God, for the saints of all ages. For those who in times of darkness kept the lamp of faith burning. For the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it. For the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world. And for those known and loved by us, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller light of life with you. Amen.

Jesus said, ‘whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’ Matt 10:39.
Tertullian the second century church father wrote ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.’ The following prayers of martyrs challenge and encourage us today.

Lord God Almighty, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You gave strength to your prophets and your holy apostles. You gave strength to your holy martyrs. May you also give strength to us and protect us from harm. Take our souls to yourself with our faces unashamed. To you be glory, and to your beloved and holy Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen. Paese The Copt

Lord we beseech you to help and defend us. Deliver the oppressed, pity the poor, uplift those who have fallen, be the portion of those in need, return to your care those who have gone astray, feed the hungry, strengthen the weak, and break the chains of the prisoners. May all people come to know that you only are God, that Jesus Christ is your child and that we are your people and the sheep of your pasture. Clement of Rome

May God the Father and the everliving high priest Jesus Christ, strengthen us in faith, truth and love; and give to us our portion among the saints with all those who trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for all saints, for kings and governors, for the enemies of the cross of Christ and for ourselves. We pray that our fruit may abound and that we might be made complete in Jesus Christ our Lord. Polycarp of Smyrna

Additional Material



We thank you O God, for the saints of all ages. For those who in times of darkness kept the lamp of faith burning. For the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it. For the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world. And for those known and loved by us, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller light of life with you. Amen.

Teach us, O Lord, to love you, to trust you and for ever to praise you. Let us exalt your name both in the day and in the night. Let us serve you both in the house of prayer and in the world about us. Let us ascribe to you with all your saints both wisdom and majesty, both honour and glory, world without end. Amen. Henry Vaughan, 1621-1695

Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ's sake.  Common Worship

For Meditation

In our Gospel reading today we have three passages which Matthew uses to teach us about the kind of person that Jesus was. 

Firstly Jesus calls Matthew. Matthew belonged to a profession which was hated by the Jews, rightly so, the Romans contracted with local people to collect taxes, and collectors extorted excess taxes for personal profit. They enriched themselves at the expense of their fellow citizens, and were thus held in great contempt. They were barred from the synagogue and considered the moral equivalent of robbers and murderers. To follow Jesus, Matthew realised that he must abandon his lucrative job, knowing that he can never regain it -- and that he has no friends elsewhere -- except Jesus!

The lesson is clear, if you hear the call of Jesus you must be prepared to accept massive changes in your life. Matthew does not ask to follow Jesus, nor does he understand what he is getting into. He does not understand theology or ascribe to a creed or set of beliefs. He responds in faith, that is, he responds to the voice of Jesus. He is not a great guy, he is not a moral person, he is unpopular and unworthy, but this just demonstrates that God loves and can redeem any person. 

To be called by Jesus is an act of pure grace.... We are not chosen because of what we are; ...we are chosen despite our personal worth or social status. 

The Pharisees could be forgiven for getting upset at what happens next. Jesus dines with Matthew and not surprisingly the guest list includes other tax collectors and sinners. 

The Pharisees are offended. Sharing a meal, especially in a public setting, implies acceptance, approval. The Psalmist asks for vindication, because "I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked" (Psalm 26:5). There is much wisdom here. Bad company corrupts! One bad apple spoils the barrel, bad company is the devil's net, you can't run with dogs without getting fleas! These old proverbs reflect the truth that the company that we keep makes a difference in our lives. Jesus responds, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn that this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners." 

The incarnation is for the benefit of those who need it. Jesus keeps bad company and it is something which costs him a great deal in his ministry. Of course the difference with Jesus is that he is not corrupted by sin, he accepts the sinner and enables them to discover the forgiveness of God. 

Finally Jesus helps a dead girl and a sick woman. A ruler approaches Jesus and makes a tremendous statement of faith "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." he believes that even the slightest touch of Jesus hand will save. Jesus agrees to go to the home of the ruler and he responds a lot quicker than most modern doctors! 

It is then that a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She too believes that even the slightest touch from Jesus will heal.

The girl and woman have much in common, the stories are about people alienated by disease and death. For a start, touching them would have rendered anyone ceremonially unclean.

The woman's bleeding separates her by ritual law from family and friends. Her problem has persisted for twelve years. It is a spiritual and social problem as well as a medical problem. Her bleeding renders her unclean, and requires her to separate herself from the rest of society (Lev. 15). She cannot attend the synagogue or participate in religious rituals. If she touches another person, her touch renders that person unclean. She has to live as a leper did, on the fringes of society, shut out, looking in from the outside. It is hard to imagine how lonely and vile she must have felt.

Likewise, death isolates the family and all who attend the corpse.... But, in both cases, by being touched and by touching, Jesus breaks through the barriers.

Both of the stories also involve females. Women, in that time and place, were not highly regarded and had few rights. Parents wanted sons -- not daughters. The prejudice persists, 2,000 years later we have only just accepted woman as ministers in God’s church and allow them to be bishops. However, just as Jesus showed mercy to lowly sinners in vv. 9-13, so he also shows mercy to lowly females. The healings take place at the touch and word of Jesus, at his command. 

The word of Jesus has power, it conveys healing. Charles Royden

Mercy

Mercy imitates God and disappoints Satan. -- John Chrysostom

David Sheppard,the Bishop of Liverpool wrote a book entitled 'Bias to the Poor.' It reflected his belief that God had a special concern for the disadvantaged who received a rough deal from society. Poor people have worse health and a correspondingly shorter life span, they have less choice and often find themselves trapped in difficult circumstances. The passages from the readings set for today remind us that God does have a 'bias towards the poor'. Jesus spent his time with the tax collectors and the sinners rather than the religious people we would have expected. It was considered that he expressed dreadfully bad taste in the company he kept. However, God has special concern for people who find themselves at the edges of society, the foreigner, the poor, the rejected and unloved. God wants us to treat each other the way he demonstrates in his love for us.

Prayers


Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
 

Teach us, O Lord, to love you, to trust you and for ever to praise you. Let us exalt your name both in the day and in the night. Let us serve you both in the house of prayer and in the world about us. Let us ascribe to you with all your saints both wisdom and majesty, both honour and glory, world without end. Amen. Henry Vaughan, 1621-1695
 

Our loving Father, we give thanks for your goodness and love; for the joy of home and family, and the companionship of friends and neighbours; for the strength that supports us and the love that surrounds us, both when our joy is complete and when it is touched by pain. We give thanks for your Son Jesus Christ: the glory of his humble birth, the graciousness of his selfless life, the obedience and trust that led him to the cross, and the triumph of his resurrection and ascension. We give thanks for your Holy Spirit at work in your Church and in our hearts, revealing your truth, renewing our lives, and bringing us to your eternal Kingdom. Alexander Siatwinda, Zambia/Halifax
 

Hymns

  1. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness 529
  2. Give thanks 170 (After communion)
  3. There’s a sound on the wind 681
  4. Make me a channel of your peace 456
  5. Rejoice the Lord is king 575
  6. We rest on thee, 735
  7. Praise my lord the King of heaven

  8. Shine Jesus Shine

  9. Wide, wide as the ocean

  10. Amazing Grace

  11. Great is thy faithfulness
     


 

 

Top of Page