PROPER 20, SEPTEMBER 19
Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1
Judah is being overrun by the Babylonians and Chaldeans. As a last refuge, the people have retreated to their fortresses, but to no avail. What we hear today is Jeremiah’s lament for their loss.
The balm Jeremiah figuratively longs for is resin from the styrax tree found in the area of Gilead.
ALTERNATIVE FIRST READING
Amos, that interesting goat-herder and pruner of sycamore trees turned prophet, had plenty to say about corruption among the leaders of the kingdom of Israel, but in today’s reading he attacks the “solid citizens” for their cheating of the poor. His vision of the destruction of their nation is terrible, but not worse than what actually happened to them. They were captured, taken into slavery, and their nation wiped from the face of the earth.
I Timothy 2:1-7
Our reading is again from the first of the “Pastoral Letters.” Paul’s advice to the young minister Timothy is to pray for the salvation even of the emperor and his deputies who are persecuting Christians. Christ opened salvation, not for this or that denomination or party, but for all. The practical consequence, that an enlightened ruler would not threaten them, does not negate the offering of salvation to absolutely everyone. Paul understands Christ to be the messiah, the chief officer of God the Father. Only later would the Church decide that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were equally divine.