Posted by: Pauline | July 7, 2013

Scriptures for Sunday July 14

Psalm 82

Much has been written about this short psalm because of the difficulty in identifying who are the “gods” it addresses. The Hebrew word Elohim is used most often to refer to God, but also sometimes to the pagan gods of other nations and sometimes to human rulers (who are understood to have been appointed by God to rule).

Traditional interpretation of Psalm 82 is that it refers to human rulers, but some scholars today see it as referring to a divine council. Other passages in the Old Testament also seem to indicate a council of gods in which all others are subordinate to the God of Israel.

In any case, whether it is addressed to divine beings or human rulers who are seen as ruling with divine authority, they have failed to rule the world with justice. God Himself must judge the world in order for it to be governed with justice.

Colossians 1:1-14

Our prayers for one another often focus on physical conditions and other aspects of our circumstances. Paul’s constant prayers for the Colossian Christians focused on their spiritual growth.

Paul prayed that they would know God’s will and walk in a way that would please Him, doing good works and increasing in knowledge of God, and that their lives would display power, faithfulness, patience, and joyful thanksgiving.

Luke 10:25-37

This parable is so well-known that the phrase “good Samaritan” is familiar to people who have never read the Bible. Many of them would be surprised to learn that to Jesus’ original audience, the phrase “good Samaritan” would have been an oxymoron.

The priest and the Levite in the story would have been well-respected members of society. Even though they did nothing to help the man in need, it would have been easy enough to understand why – in order to find out whether he was really only half-dead or actually dead, they would risk coming close enough to a corpse to become ritually impure.

In our society, where ritual is often seen as foolishness at best and possibly a way of avoiding the things that really matter in life, we may have trouble understanding such a concern. In their society, however, ritual purity held great importance, especially for those who served in the Temple.

The Samaritan was a despised member of a different ethnic group, the result of intermarriage between Israelites left behind by their Assyrian conquerors and the foreigners brought in by the Assyrians to repopulate Samaria and the surrounding area. While their land lay between Jerusalem and Galilee, Jews avoided traveling through their territory and hardly considered them “neighbors.”

The parable is often cited for purposes of racial reconciliation, but that does not seem to be Jesus’ focus. Obeying the commandment to love one’s neighbor means loving anyone in need whom one encounters, regardless of how much it may stretch us personally to do so.


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