11th Sunday After Pentecost, August 9, 2015
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Year B)
Scripture Readings*: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33, Psalm 130, Ephesians 4:25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah make it very difficult for him to correct his own sons. They know too much about him. Absalom, in battle becomes entangled in a tree. He was left helpless, but alive. Although David had told his men to “deal gently with Absalom”, Joab kills David’s son. David is overcome with grief.
David’s desire to spare the life of Absalom placed his military men in an impossible dilemma. How could they win the victory for David, and at the same time, deal gently with Absalom? Perhaps David had hoped Absalom could be taken alive and that reconciliation could be made between father and son.
How does righteousness find expression in human relationships? 1) By putting off falsehood and speaking truthfully. This involves more than not lying. It involves an open sharing of our selves with one another, rejecting deceit. 2) By rejecting the sinful actions anger drives us toward. Anger that prevents reconciliation does not lead to unity. 3) By rejecting gossip and unwholesome talk. In our conversation we seek to build others up, not tear them down. 4) By ridding ourselves of bitterness, rage, slander, and every form of malice. In their place, we are to express kindness and compassion, forgiving each other as God has forgiven us.
Knowing Jesus’ earthly family, the Jews were offended by his claims to be the “bread of life” (6:41–42). Jesus responded that only those granted faith by God could understand and respond to him, but those who did respond would find everlasting life (6:43–50).
Prophesying his sacrificial death, Jesus then declared that his very flesh was the bread of life (6:51) and that only by in some way “eating” his flesh and “drinking” his blood could anyone have everlasting life.
What’s the Word?
We’ve all waited anxiously for an expected phone call, a much-anticipated announcement. We know the power those words have to fill our hearts with hope or despair, with joy or with grief. A simple word can have enormous and lasting impact on our lives.
Today’s readings underscore the importance of the words we hear and the words we speak. David receives word of the death of his son and finds himself heartbroken. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul stresses the importance of speaking honestly, rejecting gossip, and ridding ourselves of bitterness, rage, slander, and malice. And Jesus instructs, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”
What are we hearing? Do the messages we hear and the conversations we engage in reflect God’s truth, goodness, and beauty? What are we speaking? Do the words from our mouth bring God’s blessing and peace?
Prayer for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – Almighty God, through your Spirit, help me think, do, and say what is right, that I may proclaim, in word and deed, your goodness; through Jesus Christ, Amen.
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B