Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Texts for the Day

  • Semi-continuous: Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 17:1-7, 15
  • Thematic: Isaiah 55:1-5, Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
  • Romans 9:1-5
  • Matthew 14:13-21

Bible reading plan: Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel 1-24.

Commentary and Reflection

Third Isaiah – The thematic reading is the opening passage of what is sometimes called “Third Isaiah.”  Chapters 55-66 for one of the major divisions of the book, the first two being 1-39 and 40-54.  Critical scholars attribute these chapters not to the historical prophet Isaiah, but rather to an anonymous author writing in the late sixth century BCE.  This was during the time when the Israelites returned from exile.

Read as much of Third Isaiah as you have time for.  You may have read it last week if you are following the summer reading plan.  Why do you think this text was chosen for this week?  How does the meaning of the text change when it is put back in context?  Why do you think this would be a meaningful message for people returning from exile?

The Pain of Conflict – This week, take a break from the deep theology of Romans and consider Paul as a person. A common misconception is that Paul repudiated the law and his Jewish faith in favor of Christianity. The reality is more complex. While he was famously willing to fellowship with Gentiles, Paul continued to consider himself Jewish, even as his relationship with the Jewish religious authorities deteriorated beyond repair. In this reading, we get an expression of the personal pain this caused him.

Think of a time in your life where you made a controversial decision, one which your friends, family, church, or others close to you could not understand and would not accept. Do Paul’s words here speak to this situation? Can you identify with his wish “that I myself were accursed,” if that is what it took for those from whom he had been separated to see things his way? What do you want to say to Paul?

Abundance – The feeding of the five thousand is one of the few stories that appears in all four Gospels. It is an important example of the theme of abundance. This is a theme that appears throughout the Scriptures in which God provides in great abundance in the presence of scarcity, a situation in which there does not seem to be enough. Often there is a supernatural or miraculous element and the abundance described overflows far beyond any practical need. Here are some other examples to take a look at.

  • The wedding at Cana – John 2:1-11
  • The miraculous jug of oil – 1 Kings 16:8-16
  • Solomon’s wealth – 1 Kings 10:14-29

What examples from your own life would you like to add to this list? Have there been times when you have been blessed by unexpected abundance? Have there be other times where a scarcity mindset has been counterproductive?

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