Scripture Commentary January 21st (Year B)

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THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY

FIRST READING

First Samuel  3: 1-20

 

Our reading is from the central book of the “Deuteronomic History,” which includes Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel, and First and Second Kings.  The standards of history for these writers was loose compared to those of modern historians.  They used court documents and legal records, but the facts gleaned from documents were mixed indiscriminately with legends and traditions.  The narrative, written somewhere between 600-500 BCE, includes many parts that are much more ancient.

 

Our reading is about the commissioning of the boy Samuel to be God’s prophet.  As short-short stories go, it is really good.  The elderly Eli is depicted as a kindly old priest, though he has displeased the Lord by not rebuking his two blasphemous priestly sons.  The sons would soon be killed in a battle with the Philistines, who would capture the Ark; and Eli would die when he was told of these disasters.  Samuel would grow up to become the most politically powerful priest and prophet in Jewish history, as that history is told in Scripture.

SECOND READING

First Corinthians 7: 29-31

 

As we saw last Sunday, Paul is distressed by the licentiousness of his Corinthian congregation.  Here he evokes the doctrine that heaven and earth will pass away at the second coming and counsels all to prepare themselves by turning away from earthly things, power, possessiveness, and sex.  I find it a little hard that Paul wants his people to turn away from sex, and harder still that he wants them to give up mourning.  Doesn’t he know that lamentation is a form of prayer?

 

© Arthur H. Cash

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