The Epistle and Gospel for this Sunday give us some challenges that many people today seem to try to avoid. If you wonder, check your newspaper. At the time the Epistle was written, people thought that the end was coming perhaps in a matter of days, but we also know that Jesus said that only The Father knows. In the meantime, the Epistle tells us what we need to do in order to be ready, and even why. But is that happening?
In the Gospel reading, assurances of what is to come. The Comforter will bring truth, but that will cause them to be rejected by the many who seem to not want the real truth.
They tie together in a way that is highly relevant for our time.
The Epistle and Gospel readings for today give us a couple of major challenges, both of which are at least as relevant today as when they were first uttered. In the Epistle, besides the usual admonishment to “walk the walk”, we are given some specifics. In those days, fatherless children and widows were usually the poorest of the poor, and the most vulnerable. “Visiting them in their affliction” certainly means more than paying a social call.
The Gospel tells us “Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy be full”, with no quibbling or qualification about any so-called “God’s will”. In fact, “The Father himself loveth you” should say something. And they challenge what a number of people seem to be teaching.
One of the most powerful verses in the Bible is “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” in the Gospel reading for today. And so, what are they? Have we grown enough to be able to deal with at least some of them now? And if the Bible’s content was “written in stone” more than a thousand years ago, where do we look?
Here we find another often-misused Epistle reading. What does “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” actually mean? Should St Polycarp have tossed the offered incense on Caesar’s fire so that he could go home and avoid the arena? In the 1950’s was Rosa Parks supposed to sit in the back of the bus “for the Lord’s sake?” Certainly not!
But it does point out a basic principle which can be a powerful tool, and even a weapon if needed.
The Gospel reading for today covers a few topics. That’s unique, because most focus on one key point. Not only is there multiple topics, this passage contains some of the most-quoted scripture which is coincidentally some of the least-understood. In fact, this reading seems to be a trap for closed minds!