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Weekly Bible Notes

Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, Green


Introduction The Widow's Mite

Jesus often speaks out against about the exploitation of the poor and oppressed, of those on the margins of society. He also speaks about the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day. Here we find Jesus speaking about the teachers of the Law who are well-respected figures in the community, who naturally gain the respect of the general public, sit in the reserved seats in the Synagogue and have the best seats at feasts. But Jesus notices that they abuse this respect by exploiting widows and making a show of their religion. Jesus is making the point that those who have been entrusted with caring for the nation and the people have not done a good job. Instead they have abused their positions of authority and neglected their responsibility to God and to the people. Jesus then watches people as they come into the temple and put money into the offering. You can imagine the show that some would make as they offer their money. This is in stark contrast to the widow, who with great humility makes her small offering. Jesus comment about the woman offering all she had could well foreshadow his own great and sacrificial offering of "his all", in his own life. He has been teaching the disciples about the coming sacrifice of the son of Man, so this commentary on a scene in the Temple courtyards can be seen as reinforcing his argument. It distances Jesus further from the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Teachers of the Law; they give a little of what they have whilst making a show of it, for personal gain, whilst Jesus is prepared to give his all, ultimately the sacrifice of his life, for the benefit of the whole of Humanity.

Opening Sentence John Chapter 5:13

Jesus said, There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
 

Collect Prayer for the DayBefore we read we pray

Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. CW

God, our refuge and strength, bring near the day when wars shall cease and poverty and pain shall end, that earth may know the peace of heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord. CW

First Bible Reading Jonah 3:1-5,10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ 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. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

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. NRSV 

Second Reading Hebrews Chapter 9:24-28

Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. NRSV

Gospel Reading Mark 1:14-20

After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Post Communion Sentence

God of peace, whose Son Jesus Christ proclaimed the kingdom and restored the broken to wholeness of life: look with compassion on the anguish of the world, and by your healing power make whole both people and nations; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. CW

 

Commentary

The Widow's Mite

Jesus often speaks out against about the exploitation of the poor and oppressed, of those on the margins of society. He also speaks about the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day. Here we find Jesus speaking about the teachers of the Law who are well-respected figures in the community, who naturally gain the respect of the general public, sit in the reserved seats in the Synagogue and have the best seats at feasts.

But Jesus notices that they abuse this respect by exploiting widows and making a show of their religion. Jesus is making the point that those who have been entrusted with caring for the nation and the people have not done a good job. Instead they have abused their positions of authority and neglected their responsibility to God and to the people.

Jesus then watches people as they come into the temple and put money into the offering. You can imagine the show that some would make as they offer their money. This is in stark contrast to the widow, who with great humility makes her small offering. Jesus comment about the woman offering all she had could well foreshadow his own great and sacrificial offering of "his all", in his own life. He has been teaching the disciples about the coming sacrifice of the son of Man, so this commentary on a scene in the Temple courtyards can be seen as reinforcing his argument.

It distances Jesus further from the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Teachers of the Law; they give a little of what they have whilst making a show of it, for personal gain, whilst Jesus is prepared to give his all, ultimately the sacrifice of his life, for the benefit of the whole of Humanity.

 

Meditation

On Saturday 1st November, in the presence of the Queen, the Anglican Methodist Covenant was signed. The ceremony fell into two parts – the first in the Westminster Central Hall where the actual signing took place and the second, a short service of thanksgiving and celebration in Westminster Abbey. The two Archbishops and the Secretary General of the General Synod were the Anglican signatories while the President and Vice President and Secretary of the Conference represented Methodism.

Speaking in the Central Hall, Archbishop Rowan Williams talked about the discoveries which each church had made during the two hundred years of separation which each was now eager to share with the other “as brothers and sisters working to overcome the distant legacy of arrogance and resentment” He reflected that God still had lessons to teach even in separation, and touched briefly on the tensions within the Anglican communion. All God’s gifts were “given to be shared and we “had no option finally but to offer them in to each other in reconciliation”.

The President of the Conference, Rev. Neil Richardson took as his theme in his address in the Abbey the importance of mission since the covenant was being signed because “we have become convinced that we shall serve the purpose of God more effectively together than separately”. The Church is committed to “humanizing life” and to sharing the love of God because “love is the ultimate environment in which we all live”. While there are domestic matters for the church it is the wellbeing of our country and the healing of God’s world which are central to the Church’s calling.

A great deal of work remains to be done before the goal of visible unity is achieved, and it is hoped that this signing will not only give impetus to the work of reconciling the two different structures but will also lead to many initiatives to work and share together at all levels of the life of the two churches. That may make little difference for us in the Partnership but we hope it will in such places as the Circuit and Deanery.
And a memorable day, in which I was privileged to share, finished with an excellent chicken casserole as a guest in Church House!! John Stubbs
 

Hymns and Psalms

  1. As the deer pants for the water
  2. I am a new creation
  3. Where the cross (Tune Gonfalon Royal)
  4. O God our help
  5. Thy hand O God.

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer for Peace Pope John Paul II

To you, Creator of nature and humanity, of truth and beauty, I pray

Hear my voice, for it is the voice of the victims of all wars and violence among individuals and nations.

Hear my voice, for it is the voice of all children who suffer and will suffer when people put their faith in weapons and war.

Hear my voice, when I beg you to instil into the hearts of all human beings the wisdom of peace, the strength of justice and the joy of fellowship.

Hear my voice, for I speak for the multitudes in every country and every period of history who do not want war and are ready to walk the road of peace.

Hear my voice, and grant insight and strength so that we may always respond to hatred with love, to injustice with total dedication to justice, to need with sharing of self, to war with peace. O God, hear my voice, and grant unto the world your everlasting peace

Keep me safe in your arms, O Lord, for then I have nothing to fear. Let me rely on you in all things and deliver me from all that imperils my salvation. Guard me in the hour of danger and in the hour of success. Grant that I may always believe in you, love you and serve you, and bring me at your bidding into the presence of your glory; through Christ our Lord. Amen  by John Henry Newman, 1801-1890

Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Collect for 3rd Sunday before Advent


 

Additional Material

Verse of scripture

'We love, because he first loved us.' 1 John Chapter 4:19

Post Communion Prayer

God, the source of all holiness and giver of all good things: may we who have shared at this table as strangers and pilgrims here on earth be welcomed with all your saints to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Meditation

Psalm 119:1-8 1

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. 4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. 5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.

Commentary

A Scribe came to Jesus and asked him which of the commandments was most important. Jesus responded by reciting the words of the Shema

'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

As an observant Jew, Jesus recited this combination of confession and prayer to God twice a day, during his morning and evening prayers. Still today the Shema is the first prayer a Jewish child learns and a pious Jew would want it to be found on their lips at death. The word "Shema" means 'Hear' and that is the first word of the prayer. The prayer was developed as a summary of the whole of the Jewish law. The prayer is taught to all Jewish children by the parents and thus emphasises the responsibility of parents in passing on the faith to their children. The Shema is the central focus of Jewish worship. (See further, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, Numbers 15:37-41)

Jesus then goes on further with the commandment 'love your neighbor as yourself.' This means that we should extend to our neighbours the same self-centered love and concern which we all harbour for ourselves. Historically, the 'neighbour' referred to in Leviticus 19:18 specifically meant "the sons of your own people." But Jesus had expanded the definition of 'neighbour' far beyond those borders (see Luke 10:25-37), erasing national and ethnic self-centeredness as well as excuses for limits on loving one's 'neighbour.' When we love God with all our soul, we will succeed in integrating our faith into all of our being. We cannot compartmentalise our "religious life" from the rest of our life if the love of God has entered into our soul.

As Christians, this passage is a call to more commitment and dedication to our faith, in every area of our lives. This turning to God must embrace our Heart Soul Mind Strength. We could not be certain exactly what is meant by these different words but surely the real meaning is that every part of our being must seek to turn attention to God. Real faith lays hold of all these things, our emotions our wills, our minds and our bodily strength. This means that we observe the truth, allow the truth to touch the emotions, then to challenge and move the will, and to engage the body in action. What is our motivation for doing God's will, obeying God's commands? Is it fear of authority? A desire for God's approval or the approval of others? Or love? Surely the reason why we seek to be obedient in our faith is because we have known the love of God, which melts our hard and self-centered hearts. As we know God’s love and seek to return that love, so we strive to follow his commandments and love our neighbour also. In the words of 1 John 4:19: "We love, because he first loved us."

Prayers for Sunday

God, our Shepherd, give to the Church a new vision and a new charity, new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity; that the eternal message of your Son, undefiled by human tradition, may be hailed as the good news of the new age; through him who makes all things new, Jesus Christ our Lord. Percy Dearmer (1867-1936)

Gracious and all merciful God - we give thanks to you today for your compassion and your love. We proclaim your goodness and your strength and we call upon you in praise and thanksgiving. Bless us and bless your people everywhere this day with your holy presence. Help us to worship you in a manner worthy of our calling and to render to you the tribute due to your name. We ask it through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the silence of the stars, in the quiet of the hills and in the heaving of the sea, you speak O Lord. In the words of the prophets and the message of the apostles, you speak O Lord. Now we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen.

Eternal God, You have been our resting-place through the ages. Generations come and pass away, but You abide forever. We praise you for Your presence among us. You bring us comfort amid our trials - clarity where confusion persists - peace in the midst of conflict - and hope of eternal life. Hear us now as we pray for Your Church and the needs of the world, for You are the God of our lives. We pray for the Church of Jesus Christ; that, begun, maintained and promoted by the Holy Spirit, it may be true, engaging, glad, and active, doing your will. Let Your church be always faithful, O God, and ready to promote the cause of compassionate love and peace

We pray that as Christian disciples we may be a faithful witness in word and deed to the Good News of Christ's Love. We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the word. We pray that everywhere upon this earth there may be justice and peace. We pray especially today for the well being of people in parts of the world affected by drought and famine. We continue to pray for peace in the Middle East. Lord, we pray for all people in their daily life and work - for our families, friends, and neighbours, and for those who are alone. We name before you individuals and families experiencing personal hardship or facing and uncertain future, those who are separated from loved ones, those who grieve this today, and those who are sick in hospital or ill at home. Hear us Lord as we now lift up those people and those situations you have placed upon our hearts.

Hymns for this Sunday

  • Ye servants of God
  • Come sing the praise of Jesus
  • As the deer
  • Tell out my soul
  • Great is thy faithfulness