Lectionary text for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time):
Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 3:19-26 or Psalm 137; Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Psalm 37:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10
“The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
20 My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
Luke 17:5-10: “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6 The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you. 7 ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? 8 Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!”
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost Comment: There are five chapters in the Old Testament book Lamentations. The content is true to its title; it is full of lament. Scholars believe this book was written by Jeremiah as he grieved over the destruction of his home and people by the Babylonian invasion. Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 vividly describe the horrible conditions they suffered, such as of severe famine, rape, torture, slavery and death not to mention the spiritual despair of people and prophet. However, there is a shift that occurs in chapter 3. The prophet’s words are full of confidence and hope in the faithfulness of God.
We often use the metaphor of storms to describe the struggles of life. Well, when the storm is a hurricane with its destructive winds whirling, there is a place in the center of it, called the “eye” that is calm. Reading Lamentations chapter 3 is like stepping into the “eye “of the hurricane. Verses 22-23 are famous and often quoted. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” With all the hopelessness occurring, the prophet knows that somewhere, somehow God will intervene and save his people.
I must confess that I don’t understand the connection between Luke n17:5-6 and Luke 15: 7-10 so I will only comment on verses 5 and 6.
In verses 5 and 6, Jesus’ response to the disciples request, “Lord, ‘Increase our faith!” I have often heard Christians say during difficult times, “If I just had more faith.” Again, I have heard Christians accused of not having enough faith when prayers aren’t answered in a “satisfactory” way or within a certain “time.”
Jesus responds to the disciples by saying that mustard seed size faith is enough! The issue it seems is not about size, but faith’s suitability, its appropriateness. When it comes to faith, the maxim that fits here states, “It doesn’t have to be more to be better.”
O LORD, you also say through the prophet, “The LORD is my portion…” Every time you intervene in our lives, in the midst of every storm, we learn that you are enough. You are the All-Sufficient One. Thank You.
Blessings, for Ordinary Times…
© September, 22, 2010
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