6th Sunday After Epiphany, February 12, 2017

Sixth Sunday After Epiphany (Year A)

Scripture Readings*: Deuteronomy 30:15-20, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37, Psalm 119:1-8

Deuteronomy 30:15-20showimage

The nature of a covenant relationship is predicated upon trust. God promises blessings to be poured out upon Israel, contingent upon Israel’s trust, demonstrated through obedience to God’s commandments. As long as Israel remains faithful, or if a future generation returns to God after straying, God will restore and bless.

The choice for Israel – and each of us – is whether we will choose God or emptiness, blessing or disaster, life or death.

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

It is easy to become distracted and to get our eyes off of Christ. The Corinthians argued over the merits of mere human leaders; becoming jealous and bickering over human capacities. They lost the spiritual insight that had been given to them by the Spirit of God.

Paul reminds us: Human leaders are servants of God, God is the source of all growth, and God’s priority is the congregation. He stresses that leaders are simply workers in God’s field, and that the church is the field. Ultimately, Christ is the foundation and the church is God’s temple.

Matthew 5:21-37

Jesus uses the subjects of murder, adultery, divorce, and oaths to reveal how deceptive our own hearts can be.

While the Pharisees understood murder in the literal sense, Jesus reminds them – and us – that even harmful words can kill a person’s spirit, and lustful attitudes can constitute adultery. Although the Old Testament allowed divorce, it was not commanding divorce. The Pharisees were experts in manipulating the oaths they had made to God. Jesus insists upon straightforward truthfulness, and reminded them that the breaking of a vow is subject to God’s punishment.

Life Is Beautiful

A Holocaust survivor was interviewed shortly before his death and asked to comment about his life. “Life is beautiful,” the old man replied. The journalist pointed out that this man lost his entire family in the concentration camps and witnessed the evils of the Nazis firsthand.

The old man insisted, stating he had also experienced the power of kindness as he was rescued. He went on to point out the freedom of forgiveness, the joy of marrying and raising his own family, and leaving a legacy for others.

This old man chose life, prosperity, and the power of blessing. He understood the potential of evil in his own heart and, instead, opened his heart to God’s goodness. Today’s readings are the basis for this wisdom. We, too, can recognize how quickly our own hearts can become darkened by sin as Jesus points out. Instead, we can daily choose life, experiencing God’s blessing and goodness.

Prayer for Sixth Sunday After Epiphany – “Gracious God, outside of You there is no good in me. Give me grace to keep your commandments and experience Your life. Blessed be God forever. Amen.”

*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A

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