Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23. A good reputation is of great value. God made both rich and poor, and those who are unjust will not survive, while those who are generous find happiness. God defends the poor and will stand against those who oppress them.
Psalm 125. A prayer of confidence in God’s care and protection of God’s people, and a plea that God would do good to good people, but reject evil doers.
James 2:1-10, 14-17. To show favouritism is to deny Jesus’ faithfulness, and is to break the law which calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves. It is sinful to favour the wealthy over the poor. Claiming we have faith when we fail to live it out in acts of compassion is meaningless.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-23. Jesus heals a Gentile woman’s daughter after an interesting conversation, and opens the ears and mouth of a deaf-mute man. Jesus then tries to get the people to keep silent about what he has done, but they insist on spreading the news.
The Reverend Tania writes,
In every reading this week God’s preferential option for the poor and vulnerable is expressed. The Lectionary offers us a clear and unequivocal call to justice as we follow Christ.
In Proverbs, those who are generous and just are blessed, and God is seen to be on the side of the poor and oppressed, while resisting those who are unjust. The Psalm celebrates God’s care for God’s people, and God’s healing, restoration and blessing on the poor and broken, and on those who live generously and justly.
In the letter of James, favouritism is denounced as breaking the law of love, and the people of faith are challenged to put their faith into action by caring for the poor. Finally, Jesus is shown to be our example for compassionate living, as he heals both a Gentile woman’s daughter (after being challenged by her in his initial reluctance) and a Jewish man.
The basic and consistent message of the Lectionary this week is this: Our faith is seen in how we treat others, especially in our love for, protection of and inclusion of the poor, the marginalised, the broken and the vulnerable. As such, favouritism, prejudice and discrimination are to be rejected, and inclusive love and welcome are to be embraced and practiced as the most basic and fundamental ingredients of our faith.
God expects God’s people to reject favouritism and show inclusive love, grace and compassion to all. It’s a challenging week, but it goes to the heart of the Gospel.
May we learn, a little more, to be people of inclusivity and compassion through our worship this week.
Prayerfully, Rev. Tania.