Proper 26 Year B (11/4/12)

10 Nov

Ruth 1:1-18 or Track 2 – Deuteronomy 6:1-9 & Psalm 119:1-8;

Hebrews 9:11-14

Mark 12:28-34

 

Palm 146

Praise the LORD, O my soul!               

 

Opening Questions

  • What does it take to love someone with all your heart, soul, and mind?
  • Is love toward God the same as love toward your neighbor?
  • Does love require creativity?

Appointed Passages

Ruth 1: 1-18

1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there for about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons or her husband.

6 Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had had consideration for his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. 8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.’ Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. 10 They said to her, ‘No, we will return with you to your people.’ 11 But Naomi said, ‘Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.’ 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’

16But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.

17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’
18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

  • What was the source of Ruth’s commitment to Naomi?
  • Have you ever felt that sort of commitment to or from someone?  If so, how does it change you?

Hebrews 9: 11 – 14

11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy   Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

  • Does the phrase “purify our conscience from dead works” simply mean that if we accept Jesus as our Lord and savior, that we become purified?
  • Is communion a requirement for salvation, or a reminder of it’s existence?

Mark 12: 28 – 34

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and “to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’–this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

  • Does your expression of love to someone other than yourself require a response?
  • Does love come with any conditions to be valid?

Comment

The quote from Mark’s Gospel “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…..” is part of the liturgy celebrating our faith.  We say it all the time, but does it really reach into our minds and trigger a response?  When you think about it, it’s a pretty tall order.

Particularly in today’s age of such seeming division of political and cultural viewpoints, we have a difficult time getting close to other people.  It is ironic that in a huge expansion of access via the web, we seemingly have a more narrow view of the communities we build or perhaps even less direct personal connections with those around us.

My take on today’s gospel is that we experience God’s love by living it.  How?  By our fundamental belief in his presence in our lives as a catalyst for touching His spiritual presence in others by our words and deeds.  Love is not an ethereal concept that we talk about abstractly.  It is an element of our character that forms the foundation of who we are – IF – we learn to recognize and embrace it daily in our lives.

One way to think of actively embracing Gods love is in building community.  I believe we need community – defined as a group of caring individuals who become somewhat like a family by embracing the needs of the group and taking action to support them.

In the process, we all grow personally by knowing others – not just superficially – but on a deeper more personal basis.  We recognize others strengths and most importantly weaknesses – and position ourselves to help overcome them.  We all become better through collaboration of views and exchanges of ideas.  Most importantly, we hopefully gain respect for others that seems in short supply today.

My prayer is that we work toward a more connected life as faithful Christians.

 

Quotes for Today:

Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.

Andre Gide

 

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

Erich Fromm

 

The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.

Pierre Abelard

 

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.

George McDonald

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