Prayers at Mid-day for Wednesday, 22 July, 2020 (Proper 16, Trinity 6)

A Video Version of this Service of Morning Prayer can be found is also available.


Feast of St. Mary Magdalene




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.


Hebrew Scriptures

Joshua 8.30-35 (Joshua Renews the Covenant)



Psalm 119.49-72

49 Remember your word to your servant,

   in which you have made me hope. 

50 This is my comfort in my distress,

   that your promise gives me life. 

51 The arrogant utterly deride me,

   but I do not turn away from your law. 

52 When I think of your ordinances from of old,

   I take comfort, O Lord. 

53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,

   those who forsake your law. 

54 Your statutes have been my songs

   wherever I make my home. 

55 I remember your name in the night, O Lord,

   and keep your law. 

56 This blessing has fallen to me,

   for I have kept your precepts. 

57 The Lord is my portion;

   I promise to keep your words. 

58 I implore your favour with all my heart;

   be gracious to me according to your promise. 

59 When I think of your ways,

   I turn my feet to your decrees; 

60 I hurry and do not delay

   to keep your commandments. 

61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,

   I do not forget your law. 

62 At midnight I rise to praise you,

   because of your righteous ordinances. 

63 I am a companion of all who fear you,

   of those who keep your precepts. 

64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;

   teach me your statutes. 

65 You have dealt well with your servant,

   O Lord, according to your word. 

66 Teach me good judgement and knowledge,

   for I believe in your commandments. 

67 Before I was humbled I went astray,

   but now I keep your word. 

68 You are good and do good;

   teach me your statutes. 

69 The arrogant smear me with lies,

   but with my whole heart I keep your precepts. 

70 Their hearts are fat and gross,

   but I delight in your law. 

71 It is good for me that I was humbled,

   so that I might learn your statutes. 

72 The law of your mouth is better to me

   than thousands of gold and silver pieces. 



Romans 14.13-23 (Do Not Make Another Stumble)





Matthew 12.15-21 (God’s Chosen Servant)


15 When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, 16and he ordered them not to make him known. 17This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 

18 ‘Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,

   my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.

I will put my Spirit upon him,

   and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 

19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud,

   nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. 

20 He will not break a bruised reed

   or quench a smouldering wick

until he brings justice to victory. 

21   And in his name the Gentiles will hope.’




Commentary (Father Michael)


If you want to understand Jesus, look at his acts of healing.   That seems to be the central point of today’s reading from Matthew 12, which comes after several adversarial exchanges with the Pharisees and religious leaders who only want to look at Jesus as a rule breaker.  In two incidents just prior to today’s reading, Jesus breaks two legal restrictions by gathering food and healing on the Sabbath, leading the Pharisees to start plotting his downfall.   The “this” that Jesus is aware of in the first line of today’s gospel refers to the Pharisee’s hostility.  So Jesus goes off, crowds follow him, he heals them, and then, curiously, says “Shhhhh, don’t speak of this”.


Jesus’ apparent secrecy is often noticed in biblical commentaries and preaching, but can still be puzzling.   Why does Jesus seem to want to hide his light under a bushel, to use his own language?  The question often arises.   We saw it in the last two Sundays’ gospel readings from Matthew, which focus on parables and why Jesus uses them as a teaching tool   At one point, during the parable of the Sower and the Seed, the disciples ask Jesus, in effect, why don’t you speak more plainly, and by way of answer Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah:


15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,

   and their ears are hard of hearing,

     and they have shut their eyes;

     so that they might not look with their eyes,

   and listen with their ears,

and understand with their heart and turn—

   and I would heal them.”  (Mt 13.15)


Again today we note Jesus quoting Isaiah, in one of the passages on a figure called the Servant, who God chooses to bring justice and hope to all the nations.   Jesus here seems to say that like the Servant, he will do his work quietly:


He will not quarrel or cry out;

    no one will hear his voice in the streets. (Mt 12.19)


In these two quotations from Isaiah, packed close together by Matthew, Jesus is making it perfectly clear who he is, for those to care to know.  He clearly identifies himself in general with the prophetic tradition represented by Isaiah, and specifically with he Messianic servant figure in Isaiah.   If you were paying attention to Matthew’s use of prophecy thus far, and if you understood that prophetic tradition as Matthew’s first Jewish readers would have understand it, then you’ve made that connection already.   But in quoting Isaiah, Jesus is speaking to insiders who already know and believe Jesus.  The point of these quotations is to denounce his opponents, the Pharisees, who will reject Jesus just as Israel rejected and killed the prophets (Mt 23.31).


Where Jesus never hides his light under a bushel is in his acts of healing.  Again to quote today’s reading:  “A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill” (Mt 12.15).   These are not acts done in secret.  Jesus clearly wants to be known by his actions, which is presumably why the crowds follow him.   If you want to know me, Jesus seems to say, pay attention to what I do,  and what I say, not so much.  In this respect, Jesus quoting of Isaiah in Mt 13.15 might be reinterpreted:  

so that they might not look with their eyes,

   and listen with their ears,

and understand with their heart and turn—

   and I would heal them.


It’s not that he withholds healing from people who don’t agree with him, as an act of punishment, but rather, he can’t heal those who don’t wish to be healed.


For the church, an understanding that Jesus’ intelligibility resides in his acts of healing is, I suggest, the key to evangelism.  A church which insist on righteousness and rule keeping will never be more than an isolated group of insiders, irrelevant and perhaps even disliked by its neighbours.   A church which seeks to meet the deepest needs of its neighbours will embody Jesus in its love and desire to bring God’s healing to the world.   Our mission must be founded on Christ the healer, and not on God the rulemaker.  Whenever we want to show Jesus to the world, we can’t go wrong if we focus on his acts of grace and healing.  If we can embody them in some way, so much the better.




Where do you see Jesus healing in you life?  In the life of your church?   What other questions come to mind in today’s passages?




Let us pray in faith to God our Father, to his Son Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, saying, “Lord, hear and have mercy.”


For the Church of the living God throughout the world, let us ask the riches of his grace.  Today we pray in the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer for clergy and people of the Diocese of Northwest Ankole (Uganda) and for their bishop, The Rt Revd Amos Magezi, as well as for the clergy and people of the Diocese of Bendigo (Australia) and their Bishop, The Rt Revd Matt Brain 


Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who proclaim he word of truth, especially all who struggle to communicate the gospel within the isolation and restrictions of the pandemic, 

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who have consecrated their lives to the kingdom of God, and for all struggling to follow the way of Christ, let us all the gifts of the Spirit.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For Elizabeth our Queen, for Justin our Prime Minister, and for all who govern the nations, that they may strive for justice and peace, let us ask the strength of God.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For scholars and research workers, particularly for those working on treatments and a vaccine for Covid 19, and for all whose work seeks to benefit humanity, let us ask the light of the Lord.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


We pray to be forgiven our sins and set free from all hardship, distress, want, war, and injustice.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who have passed from this life in faith and obedience,  and for all who have perished from Covid 19 and from diseases that went untreated because hospitals were overwhelmed, let us ask the peace of Christ.

Lord, hear and have mercy.



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.





Almighty God, your Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence.  Give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.   Amen.


Almighty God, whose Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of mind and body and called her to be a witness of his resurrection, forgive us and heal us by your grace, that we may serve you in the power of his risen life; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.