Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Proper of the Day: Pentecost XXII

Today the Church celebrates a Feast of Our Lord in the Eucharist and readings from Joel, II Timothy, and Luke. The passage from the prophet Joel contains the vision:
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
In the second letter to Timothy, St. Paul is lamenting his own predicament and defending his ministry and promising that the "crown of righteousness" will be reserved for him and by implication for all of us after we ourselves have each ben "poured out as a libation." A libation is a drink offering, where the offeror literally ours out a chalice onto or in front of the altar. Most of the uses of the word "libation" int he NRSV come from Jeremiah, which we just finished reading last week.

And today's passage from Luke is the famous Pharisee and the Publican, or Tax Collector. You know the one, the one who says, "Lord, I'm glad I'm not like that tax collector over there." I know I am often guilty of that same feeling. I need to be aware of who it is I am marginalizing by my own holier-than-thou mentality. Even if I don't express is publicly, I sometimes think it. I think we all do. Jesus calls us to remember that in God's economy, none of us are better than anyone else. Salvation is purely a gift of God and we can't earn it - it's freely available to all, which means we are all equal in God's eyes. That's the Good News - God really doesn't look at us with our own attitudes and our own value systems. And thank God, too - can you imagine if we actually got what we all deserve? But in Jesus of course we don't. We get God's own limitless and all-forgiving love for each and every one of us, whether we sometimes act like a Pharisee or sometimes like a Tax Collector.


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