The Feast of St Bartholomew celebrates one of the more obscure disciples. But, you will see in the Gospel reading today that in being obscure, he was accomplishing something great, especially if you look at his known history. He accomplished a great deal, according to the histories that have been handed down to us. Yet if you look at the name he is given, you might recognize the obscurity that was given to him!
The challenge this week is not finding something to speak about, but choosing from two of the most significant passages in the entire Bible! I’ve spoken often on the Prodigal Son, but this time I want to focus on the Epistle and its lesson for us.
How many times, when we are on a journey of some sort, do we think about how to get out of it? The Israelites left Egypt with all kinds of enthusiasm, but they began to mutter during the journey and lost sight of who they were and what they were supposed to do. Hence such stories as the infamous golden calf. No matter how much they might have fantasized about plenty to eat in Egypt, the truth was that there was no real option but to be focused on the journey they were on!
BTW, if I seem not myself, it’s the result of being jumped on by a loving dog who thinks she’s still a puppy.
Along with our Holy Communion, the lessons offer an interesting “double punch”. The Epistle continues a basic theme of letting us know that we are indeed changed from what we used to be, and he uses the Roman-style adoption as an example. And in the Gospel, a warning about false prophets and false leaders, stories about which we can find in almost any newspaper. I could name names and give phone numbers from my own experience!
Another version of the “loaves and fishes” story, but with one difference: this time, they are in the wilderness with a big crowd of hungry people. But Jesus has no problem knowing what needs to be done, and doing it! This comes along with an epistle giving the same message that a certain training officer imparted on me as a young cadet: Hold on to what you’ve gained!
The lessons for the beginning of Trinity Season all seem to focus on some basic stuff, probably because the basics are hard to keep in focus if your daily like is like mine. And when Jesus tells people that their righteousness has to exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, what is he saying? Is he making it hard for us, or is he hinting that there is a better way?
Along with the Eucharist, a pair of readings that belong together. The Epistle is a continuation from the thoughts of last week’s Gospel. And this week’s Gospel shows what can be.
We all know people who seem to be living a daily “soap opera”, and how much do they accomplish for themselves, or for anyone else? But if we understand what love and compassion are all about, we can get things done. And speaking of that, see how Simon Peter is called in the Gospel!
And here in the gospel lesson, we have what might be considered both a promise and a threat, depending on what people do with it. And, like so much, it can apply to us today, virtually every day.
A simple question which some might not like having to answer: Are you willing to be measured by the same measuring stick which you use to measure others?
All that, and Holy Communion too!