Proper 5

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Pentecost 3
June 9, 2002

Prayer of the Day
O God, the strength of those who hope in you: Be present and hear our prayers; and, because in the weakness of our mortal nature we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, so that in keeping your commandments we may please you in will and deed; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hosea 5:15-6:6
{15} I will return again to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face. In their distress they will beg my favor:" {6:1} "Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. {2} After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. {3} Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth." {4} What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early. {5} Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have killed them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. {6} For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

15: This verse continues the image from verse 14 of a lion carrying off its prey. Yahweh will make a prey of Judah and Ephraim and keep them until they acknowledge their guilt and beg his favor.
1-3: These verses are a liturgical song of penitence. They represent Ephraim and Judah begging Yahweh’s favor.
let us return: The Hebrew verb "means to leave off the Baalized practices current in religion and go back to the original relation to Yahweh of the wilderness period." [1]
2. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up: "The use of the series x, x+1 to achieve a climax is common in ancient literature, especially in the Canaanite tradition." [2] The phrase in question is not vague or indefinite. It is very specific; after two days, on the third day. It does not indicate an uncertain time for the accomplishment of the action in consideration, but rather the definiteness and certainty of the accomplishment of that action. The formula x/x+1 has a climactic effect which leaves us with a sense of immediacy and urgency.
that we may live before him: "...Yahweh again will ‘raise up’ from their sickbeds (Ps 41:4, 11) those who have been wounded and cared for. It is then certain that they ‘continue to live in Yahweh’s presence.’ In death one is separated from Yahweh; accordingly, a resurrection from the dead is not spoken of." [3] "...neither the New Testament, nor the Apostolic Fathers, nor the ancient apologists cite Hos 6:2 as a proof-text [for the resurrection]. Tertullian was the first to use it as such." [4]
4-6: Yahweh is disappointed with the inconstant, indecisive, short-lived loyalty of Judah and Israel. He seeks a relationship with his people based on their steadfast love and intimate knowledge of God, not external devices like sacrifice.

Psalm 50:7-15
{7} "Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. {8} Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. {9} I will not accept a bull from your house, or goats from your folds. {10} For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. {11} I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine. {12} "If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine. {13} Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? {14} Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. {15} Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.""

7. I will testify against you: Yahweh testifies against his people. "Yahweh does not accuse his people because these sacrifices are brought before him, but he strictly rejects the effects which those who bring them expect of them.... Yahweh is expected to accept the animal, recognize the value of the sacrifice, satisfy his hunger (v. 12), and enjoy it. In other words, the idea is to purvey strength to Yahweh, make an impression on him, allay his wrath, and achieve a favorable disposition."
8. your sacrifices...your burnt offerings...[14] ...a sacrifice of thanksgiving: Israel’s sacrifices cultus was not intended as way of pleasing or placating Yahweh, but a means of thanksgiving and communion with God. Even sin offerings were to be expressions of gratitude for sins forgiven rather than a means to alleviate guilt. When the sacrificial system was understood as a means for placating God’s anger or for relieving one’s guilt, or for satisfying the needs or whims of a deity, then Yahweh will not accept the sacrifices. He will accept sacrifices of thanksgiving.
10-13: All wild and domestic animals and birds belong to Yahweh. He does not need sacrifices to satisfy his hunger.
15. Call on me...I will shall glorify me: Yahweh will respond to a call for help. In turn the people should respond with praise to glorify him.

Romans 4:13-25
{13} "For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. {14} If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. {15} For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. {16} For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, {17} as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations")--in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. {18} Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become "the father of many nations," according to what was said, "So numerous shall your descendants be." {19} He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. {20} No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, {21} being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. {22} Therefore his faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness." {23} Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, {24} but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, {25} who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification."

13: "While the promise was made to Abraham in the physical sense in Genesis, Paul now shows that the promise has found a fuller fulfillment: ‘many nations’ as a term for Gentiles in general, the children of Abraham through faith." [6] See Galatians 3:8. This faith response is not an act of will or a feeling of certainty., but something akin to surrender, to putting one’s self completely under the protection of and at the disposal of another, with a sense of assurance based on past performance.
15. where there is no law, neither is there violation: A fundamental but often ignored principal of jurisprudence. This principal is clarified in 15:13. In 7:5-7, the effect of the law is to bring about the knowledge of sin. Sin existed before the law, but before the law it was not known and transgression was not counted. With the law came both the knowledge of sin and the urge to sin.
16. those who share the faith of Abraham: Cf. Romans 4:12.
Abraham (for he is the father of us all…): See the question of descent from and the fatherhood of Abraham in John 8:37-44. Abraham was the identifiable ancestor of the Israelites (Romans 11:1, Paul identifies himself as an Israelite and a descendent of Abraham). In Romans 9:6-8 he develops the idea that not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, not all of Abraham’s children are his descendants. In Acts 17:26 it is asserted that all human beings are descended from one ancestor, Abraham, as indeed they must be since Abraham was the patriarchal survivor of the flood.
17: A quotation from Genesis 17:5 in the Septuagint version.
18: A quotation from Genesis 15:5. The two quotations are to establish the fatherhood of Abraham of both Jew and Gentile.
19-21: Abraham’s faith is idealized. In fact, Abraham’s trust in God’s ability or willingness to keep his promise seems to have wavered several times (Genesis 15:1-3; 16:1-2).
22: A quotation from Genesis 15:6. As Abraham’s faith was reckoned as righteousness for him, so the faith of those who believe in the one who raised Jesus from the dead (and so by implication, believe in Jesus), will be reckoned to them as righteousness. Paul includes his readers (both Gentile and Israelite) in "us."
25. was raised for our justification: This is usually understood in a juridical sense as God’s declaration of "not guilty." As sin does not exist apart from the law, so God has set us free from the penalty of sin by his fiat.

Matthew 9:1-13, 18-26
{1} And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town. {2} And just then some people were carrying a paralysed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." {3} Then some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." {4} But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? {5} For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? {6} But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he then said to the paralytic—"Stand up, take your bed and go to your home."{7} And he stood up and went to his home. {8} When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. {9} As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. {10} And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. {11} When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" {12} But when he heard this, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. {13} Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners...." {18} "While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, "My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live." {19} And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. {20} Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, {21} for she said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well." {22} Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." And instantly the woman was made well. {23} When Jesus came to the leader's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, {24} he said, "Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. {25} But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. {26} And the report of this spread throughout that district.

9-10. Matthew…many tax collectors and sinners…were sitting with him: The Pharisees sought to maintain the same degree of purity in their daily lives as the priests were required to maintain in the Temple. Tax collectors (for the Roman government) were considered traitors and, because of the nature of Roman taxation, were believed to be corrupt and predatory. To associate with tax collectors and sinners, and especially to eat with them, would compromise one’s purity. Jesus’ association with such people dishonored him in the view of the Pharisees. "Sinners" were probably those who engaged in occupations that made them ritually unclean. They were not necessarily morally defective.
the house: In Matthew 4:13 we read that Jesus made his home in Capernaum. In Matthew 9:1 Jesus came to his own town (Capernaum). So, he found Matthew in Capernaum, and "the house" could be either Matthew’s or Jesus’ own home.
12-13. Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick: This is an unattributed proverb. Its meaning is clear. Those who are pure do not need special religious attention. Jesus, is concerned with those who need his attention, the unclean, sinners, the outcast.
Go and learn what this means: It means the same as the proverb. The impure are not to be rejected, but accepted. This would have been nearly impossible for the Pharisees. But Jesus came to call sinners into the kingdom.
I desire mercy, not sacrifice: Hosea 6:6, the first lesson.
[14-17: In the verses that are omitted John’s disciples question Jesus’ failure to fast. Jesus’ reply is that it is not the time for fasting.]
18. a leader of the synagogue: Mark tells us his name was Jairus (Mark 5:22).
20-22. These verses form an inclusion that interrupts the flow of the narrative.
the fringe of his cloak: This is probably the fringe of Jesus’ tallit, or prayer shawl. The fringe was intended to remind the wearer of the commandments and the responsibility to obey them (Numbers 15:38-41). The woman’s hemorrhage made her unclean (Leviticus 15:19-30). Her impurity was contagious, and contaminated Jesus.
23-25: Jesus sends the mourners away and raises the girl. Nothing is said about the faith of her father, or the lack of belief on the part of the mourners, just the bare fact of the raising.
the girl is not dead but sleeping: This may suggest that the girl was in a coma or deep sleep rather than dead, but the implication of the passage is that Jesus restored her to life. By taking her by the hand Jesus became as unclean as she, a corpse, was.
Resurrections in the New Testament, in addition to the raising of Jairus’ daughter, include Lazarus, John 11:38-44; a boy, Mark 9:17-27; a centurion’s slave at Capernaum, Luke 7:2-9; and the son of the widow of Nain, Luke 7:10-17. Resurrections in the Old Testament are found in 1 Kings 17:17-24 and 2 Kings 4:11-37.

     In the Psalm God rejects the idea that the sacrifices of Israel are a service that is desirable and agreeable. The people are only able to give that which is Yahweh’s already. The desired sacrifice is thanksgiving, the fulfillment of promises, and dependence on the day of trouble. When, as a congregation, we speak these words we are acknowledging our dependence of God, and our inability to do anything to impress or influence him in our favor. Our sacrifices, even our obedience to God’s commandments must be understood as our response of love and gratitude for his already bestowed blessings.
     Jesus associates with people who are unclean, tax collectors, sinners, a dead person, a woman with a hemorrhage. Jesus rejects the idea that their impurity should be cause for avoiding contact with them. He asserts that his mission is precisely to those who, in the view of the community, are "sick," those who have lost their place in the community and consequently their identity and meaning.

Hymns [7]
With One Voice (e.g. 762v), Hymnal Supplement 1991 (e.g. 725s) and LBW (e.g. 32).
E=Entrance; D=Hymn of the Day; I=First Lesson, P=Psalm; II=Second Lesson; G=Gospel

360 E--O Christ, the
291 D--Jesus Sinners Will
544 II--The God of
427 G--O Jesus Christ,
298 G--One There Is,
798s, 290, 190, 425

Prayers of the People [8]
P or A: In a world where there is suffering we turn to God in prayer for our needs and those of every neighbor on earth, saying "God, you are merciful," and responding, "Hear our prayer."
A: We are justified by faith and have peace with God in Christ Jesus. This makes us bold to serve one another and offer ourselves as living sacrifices, our true, spiritual worship. Make us continuously mindful of the needs of others. God, you are merciful. Hear our prayer.
A: We have experienced the welcome of God in Holy Baptism. We ask to be hospitable to others, in the spirit of Abraham and Sarah who cared for stranger or friend and were blessed immeasurably. Make our homes, our congregation and our nation hospitable places for those seeking friendship, help or refuge. God, you are merciful. Hear our prayer.
A: When the gift of a child is given to our family or community, may we say with Sarah, "God has given us laughter..." Create safe places and loving adults to care for and nurture these children and be examples to them of the way of the Lord. God, you are merciful. Hear our prayer.
A: We are an apostolic church with an apostolic mission. Send us as laborers into your harvest, sharing good news and infusing the life of the world with the life of Christ. Equip us, and all the baptized, for this task. Strengthen us in your Word and at your table. God, you are merciful. Hear our prayer.
A: There are among us the harassed and helpless, sheep without a shepherd, those crying out for healing. We remember especially _______. Let us all hear the good news of the kingdom and know the compassion of Christ. God, you are merciful. Hear our prayer.
P: Thank you for those who have witnessed to their faith in all times and places, especially for those we love who have gone before us. Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his servants. May we learn to boast of our sufferings in Christ, and that our suffering produce endurance and endurance character and character hope that shall never disappoint us, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or [9]

Presider or deacon
God calls us sinners to follow Jesus. On the way let us join all the disciples everywhere and offer prayers in the love and knowledge of God.
Deacon or other leader
For a day that is holy, good, and peaceful.
For an angel of peace to guide us in all our paths.
For this holy gathering and for the people of God in every place.
For all nations, peoples, tribes, clans, and families.
For all that is good and bountiful for the world.
For all those in danger and need, the suffering and the oppressed, travelers and prisoners.
For the dying and the dead.
For ourselves, our families, and those we love.
Remembering the blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, let us offer ourselves and one another to the living God through Christ. To you, O Lord.
God of steadfast love and mercy, receive our prayers and secret yearnings and make us willing to follow where you lead the way, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U. S. A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] James Luther Mays, Hosea: A Commentary. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969, p. 94.
[2] Francis I. Andersen and David Noel Freedman, Hosea: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1980, p. 420-421.
[3] Hans Walter Wolff, Hosea: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Hosea, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974, p. 117.
[4] Ibid., p. 118. The reference for Tertullian is Adversus Marcionem IV 43, Adversus Iudaeos XIII,23
[5] Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 1-59: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1988, p. 493.
[6] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 1992, p. 386.