Prayers at Mid-day for Thursday, 25 June, 2020 (Proper 12, Trinity 2)
O God, make speed to save us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.
The Lord is our refuge and our strength: O come, let us worship.
Numbers 17: 1-11
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites, and get twelve staffs from them, one for each ancestral house, from all the leaders of their ancestral houses. Write each man’s name on his staff, and write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff for the head of each ancestral house. Place them in the tent of meeting before the covenant, where I meet with you. And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout; thus I will put a stop to the complaints of the Israelites that they continually make against you. Moses spoke to the Israelites; and all their leaders gave him staffs, one for each leader, according to their ancestral houses, twelve staffs; and the staff of Aaron was among theirs. So Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant.
When Moses went into the tent of the covenant on the next day, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted. It put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the Lord to all the Israelites; and they looked, and each man took his staff. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Put back the staff of Aaron before the covenant, to be kept as a warning to rebels, so that you may make an end of their complaints against me, or else they will die.’ Moses did so; just as the Lord commanded him, so he did.
Psalm 105: 1-22
1 O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
5 Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgements he has uttered,
6 O offspring of his servant Abraham,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
7 He is the Lord our God;
his judgements are in all the earth.
8 He is mindful of his covenant for ever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.’
12 When they were few in number,
of little account, and strangers in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, ‘Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm.’
16 When he summoned famine against the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord kept testing him.
20 The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
21 He made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to instruct his officials at his pleasure,
and to teach his elders wisdom.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Matthew 20: 17-28
17 While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; 19then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.’
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him. 21And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ 22But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ 23He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’
24 When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 25But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’
Commentary (Father Michael)
Once again we see a noticeable contrast between today’s readings from Numbers and from Matthew’s gospel. In today’s reading from Numbers, in the wake of a rebellion among the Israelites, God intervenes to send a clear sign that Moses and his ally, Aaron, the head of the Levites, are divinely appointed as leaders of the people. Given the fractious nature of the Israelites, and the challenges facing them in winning a homeland, such clear authority is no doubt necessary.
The mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, no doubt hoped that her boys would gain similar authority in Jesus’ new kingdom, though she doesn’t seem to have been paying much attention to how Jesus says this kingdom will come about by suffering and humiliation (vv 17-19). In Matthew, parallels between Moses and Jesus are deliberately drawn, and the fact that there are twelve disciples, just as there are twelve ancestral houses in Numbers, is important. The difference, Jesus explains (vv 20-28), is that in this new kingdom, authority will flow from love, service, and sacrifice, rather than power.
For the rest of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ authority will be seen in acts of healing (e.g. the blind men at the end of Matthew 20) and self-giving, culminating in his death on the cross. This power will contrast with the pagan rulers of Jesus’ time, who “lord it over” their subjects, and with the empty pageants and displays of demagogues who shout and posture in stadiums today. Whereas such earthly power and authority is usually fleeting, based as it is on threats or appeals to hatred and division, Jesus authority is based on the authenticity of love and is confirmed by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Our freedom as Christians comes from submitting ourselves to Jesus’ gentle rule.
What authority are you prepared to grant Jesus over your life?
What questions come to your mind about these passages?
Lord, I pray that the people of God in all the world may worship in spirit and in truth.
Lord hear my prayer.
Lord, I pray that the Church may discover again that unity which is your will.
Lord hear my prayer.
Lord, I pray that the nations of the earth may seek after the ways that make for peace.
Lord hear my prayer.
Lord, I pray that the whole of creation, groaning in travail, may be set free to enjoy the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Lord hear my prayer.
I pray that all who with Christ have entered the shadow of death may rest in peace and rise in glory, and I pray especially this morning for the souls of the thousands that have succumbed to Covid 19.
Lord hear my prayer.
I pray that you will protect medical and essential workers, inspire the efforts of researchers and scientists seeking treatments and a vaccine for Covid 19, and that you will heal the world you graciously gave us.
Collects of the Day (Proper 12, Trinity 2):
O God our defender, storms rage about us and cause us to be afraid. Rescue your people from despair, deliver your sons and daughters from fear, and preserve us all from unbelief; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thanks be to God