READINGS for 2007-08-22
OBEDIENT TO WHOM?
“Then all the trees finally turned to the thorn bush.“‘You be our king!’” – Judges 9:14
There’s a Christian group that refrained from teaching their youth about obedience to parents. Instead, they emphasized and drilled obedience to their elders in that group.
Consequently, some of the youth didn’t see anything wrong with defying their parents “in the name of the Lord.” If their parents didn’t allow them to attend prayer meetings because it ended late at night and affected their studies, the young people would interpret it as “persecution” from their families and go to the service anyway. If parents gave good advice to their children that opposed the counsel that came from the group, the young people would disregard what their father or mother said.
God Himself instituted parental authority.
He included honoring our parents in the Ten Commandments.
An American preacher said that youth pastors do not have the mandate from God that He gave to parents. So for those who minister to the youth, take care that you do not usurp their parents’ authority. And parents, take care not to relinquish your authority to others who have clout and influence over your kids. Rissa S.
“If one man says to another, ‘You must,’ and ’You shall,’ he breaks the human spirit and unfits it for God.” (Oswald Chambers)
Lord, teach me to honor my parents and to obey those who have been rightly placed above me.
This prophecy is from the tradition that did not want Israel to move towards the path of a constitutional monarchy. Basically it argues that the only person who is willing to be king is someone who will do little good. The olive, fig and grape refuse the role as they want to concentrate on their proper functions. The thorn bush, however, is willing to take up the role, as it has nothing better to do. It is not qualified for the job, but it takes it up anyway. The prophecy predicts that the monarchy will ultimately be corrupt and dissolute. Time will vindicate the truth of this prediction.
6 All the citizens of Shechem and all Beth-millo came together and proceeded to make Abimelech king by the terebinth at the memorial pillar in Shechem. 7 When this was reported to him, Jotham went to the top of Mount Gerizim, and standing there, cried out to them in a loud voice, “Hear me, citizens of Shechem, that God may then hear you! 8 Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9 But the olive tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my rich oil, whereby men and gods are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’ 10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come; you reign over us!’ 11 But the fig tree answered them, ‘Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?’ 12 Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come you, and reign over us.’ 13 But the vine answered them, ‘Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men, and go to wave over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, ‘Come; you reign over us!’ 15 But the buckthorn replied to the trees, ‘If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith, come and take refuge in my shadow. Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’”
P S A L M
Psalm 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R: Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
1  O Lord, in your strength the king is glad; in your victory how greatly he rejoices! 2  You have granted him his heart’s desire; you refused not the wish of his lips. (R) 3  For you welcomed him with goodly blessings, you placed on his head a crown of pure gold. 4  He asked life of you: you gave him length of days forever and ever. (R) 5  Great is his glory in your victory; majesty and splendor you conferred upon him. 6  For you made him a blessing forever; you gladdened him with the joy of your face. (R)
G O S P E L
Sometimes we may not understand why God does what He does, but this does not stop us from remaining faithful to His call. God always has a reason behind the things that He does. Faith is sometimes all we have to cling to if we cannot immediately understand what He is doing. This is not God’s special verse/thought for me today necessarily a bad thing as it deepens our trust and can take us to a deeper level of faith as well! It is only in stretching our faith that we will grow in our relationship with God.
1 “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ 5 So they went off. [And] he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. 6 Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ 8 When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ 9 When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. 10 So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ 13 He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? 15 Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
think: It is only in stretching our faith that we will grow in our relationship with God.
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Baruch 1-3
MOTIVES ARE IMPORTANT
This parable concerning being wary about those who seek positions of influence and power is very instructive in terms of examining the issue of the motives for which we do things. At first we hear of olive, fig and vine that refuse to take the position of king in the garden as they do not want to sacrifice something that is dear to their independent existence. (We will return to this in a moment.) The thorn, however, is eager to have the role as king as he knows that there is nothing attractive in his normal appearance so being king will give him status and power. Thus, we are warned to be careful of those who seek power as they have no other way of gaining influence in life unless others cede it to them. So often we will discover that those who want to be leaders do not make the best leaders as their motives are far from pure.
There is another issue at stake here that I alluded to earlier and that is the one of the first three plants refusing the role as king because they were unwilling to give up something they held dear to themselves. Any good leader will know that such sacrifices are essential if they are going to be good and successful leaders. I am not saying that a leader will have to let go of everything they hold dear but a good leader will have to be ready to put the benefit of the community or the common good before his or her own preferences. Only then will a community be able to move forward on principles that are going to benefit the majority and support the weak in the midst of the strong.
Thus we can see that perhaps all plants in this parable are at fault in one way or another concerning their motives towards service! Sometimes our fault is expressed in a reluctance to serve and at other times in over eagerness. Let us be careful to look at the motives of our hearts as we lay down our lives in the service of the Kingdom Of God. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: What are the things that motivate me to serve? Do they need to be purified a little or maybe a lot!? How can I seek to purify my motives?
Holy Spirit, open my heart to the purifying power of Your love and let me open my mind to the truth as to why I make the choices I do. Help me to always choose to act in a spirit of humble service of God and neighbor.
St. Andrew, monk, pray for us.
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