Proper 26 (October 31, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 1:10-18; Ps. 32:1-7; II Thess. 1:1-4, 11-12; Lk. 19:1-10
This week Cindy visited the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, one of MCC’s Global Family partners in Jordan. The Institute provides a quality education for students who are deaf (and, in some cases, also blind).
Daryl accompanied a small delegation to northern Iraq to visit food security projects that are sponsored by Canadian and U.S. farmers. In addition to political insecurity in many parts of Iraq, small farmers have struggled in recent years due to drought. Many Iraqis (especially in the suburbs of Baghdad) also do not have clean drinking water. The MCC-supported projects focus on water conservation and reducing water-borne diseases.
The Common Lectionary readings this week remind us that repentance is the first step toward doing good and seeking justice.
In the Old Testament reading, God expresses frustration with hollow worship rituals, while injustice abounds. “Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen,” says God, “(because) your hands are full of blood.” (Is. 1:15) God challenges the people instead: “Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (v.17)
The psalmist admits that, while he kept silence about his sins, his body wasted away and his strength was dried up (Ps. 31:3-4). But when he acknowledged his sin, God forgave him, lightened his load and led him in a better direction (vv.5-11).
In the Epistle reading, Paul says that those who persecute the righteous will be held accountable (II Thess. 1:3-10). Still, even amid persecution, God is able to strengthen people of faith to remain steadfast, to increase in love and to do God’s work (vv. 4, 11).
In the Gospel reading, Jesus visits the home of Zacchaeus, a rich tax collector with a history of cheating people. (Lk. 19:1-10) After their encounter, Zacchaeus announces, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” (v.8)
The readings this week offer hope that, when we turn away from self-centered behaviors that are hurtful toward others, God is able to use us in ways that advance God’s justice and peace in the world. May we find our calling in doing good, seeking justice and acting for the well-being of vulnerable people.