Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
- Filled with the Holy Spirit, let us speak the Word of God with boldness.
The reading from Proverbs begins with the words, ‘Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares’(Proverbs 1:20) and ends with the words, ‘whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm’(Proverbs 1:33). The Gospel is not to be kept to ourselves. Christ is to be proclaimed. Why is it so important that we tell others about our Saviour, Jesus Christ? - It is because He offers salvation to all who come to Him: ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’(Romans 10:13). Later on, in Proverbs, we read. ‘he who wins souls is wise’(Proverbs 11:30). Those who are wise will pray for a greater fulfilment of the Lord’s promise: ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses ...’(Acts 1:8). Filled with the Holy Spirit, we will speak the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).
- The written Word of God – Scripture – leads us to the living Word of God – our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
God reveals Himself in creation and Scripture. He speaks through His created world. He speaks through His written Word. God is always speaking. He is never silent. Through His created world, God is speaking to us - every day, every night. He is showing us His glory (Psalm 19:1-2). He makes us aware of His presence. He whets our appetite for His written Word. The Scriptures lead us to Christ. Through faith in Him, we receive salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Christ is the high-point of God’s revelation. He is the living Word (John 1:1, 14). The testimony of the Psalmist - ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul’(Psalm 19:7) - becomes real for us through faith in Christ - ‘I came to Jesus...My soul revived and now I live in Him’(Church Hymnary, 212). Make it real. Come to Christ. Come alive in Him!
- Let us wait on the Lord, witness for Him and win others for Him.
‘The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught’(Isaiah 50:4). We are to listen to God. We are to speak for God. We cannot speak for God unless we are listening to Him. Before we can speak for God, we must speak to Him. We must pray, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening’(1 Samuel 3:9-10). Listening to God comes before speaking for God. First, we wait on the Lord - ‘I waited patiently for the Lord’. Then, we witness for the Lord - ‘He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God’. Waiting on the Lord and witnessing for Him, we will win others for Him - ‘Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord’(Psalm 40:1-3).
- Let God’s strong love reach you in your weakness. Let Him give you His strength.
‘I love the Lord... I will call on Him as long as I live’(Psalm 116:1-2). Our love for God is to be a lifelong life. It is to be the love of our life. What are we to do when our love for God grows weak? We must remember His love for us - ‘Great is His love towards us. The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever’(Psalm 117:2). When we we find it difficult to keep on loving God, we must remember how much He loves us. When we feel like giving up on loving God, we must remember that He never gives up on loving us. He loves us when our love for Him is strong. He loves us when our love for Him is weak. In love, He reaches out to us. He brings us out of our weakness and into His strength. Let His strong love reach you in your weakness and give you His strength: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’(Church Hymnary, 450).
- Let there be no more hurtful words and a lot more helpful words.
So much harm can be done by a hurtful word. so much good can be done by a word of witness. An evil ‘fire’can be turned into a godly fire: ‘It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You spread His love to everyone. You want to pass it on’ (James 3:5; Mission Praise, 348). Use your words with wisdom - ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven’(James 3:17-18). Don’t fight to get your own way. Ask God to show you His way (James 4:2). Be careful how you speak: ‘Do not slander one another...Who are you to judge your neighbour?’(James 4:11-12). May God deliver us from hypocrisy - ‘out of the same mouth come praise and cursing’(James 3:10). May He give us ‘more grace’- to be ‘humble’and not ‘proud’, submitting to God and resisting the devil (James 4:6-7).
- Where does our faith come from? It comes from divine revelation.
‘Who do you say that I am ?’: Jesus puts this question to all of us. Some believe He is the Christ. Others do not. Some try to 'sit on the fence'. Everyone makes their response to Him. God is not deceived by outward observance of religion, when it masks an inward refusal to receive Christ as Saviour, to submit to Him as Lord. On the day of judgment, God will not be looking for respectability. He will be looking for faith (Luke 18:8). Peter confessed Christ (Mark 8:29). Then, he was overcome by Satan (Mark 8:33). He became ‘puffed up’ with pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). He forgot that faith comes from divine revelation (Matthew 16:17). We are not ‘to rebuke’the Lord (Mark 8:32). Looking to ‘Jesus only’(Mark 9:8; Romans 4:5), we are to live as His disciples (Mark 8:34) - not of this world, as He is not of this world (John 17:14, 16; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Peter 1:3-4).
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary - Year B.