Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 24: Year 1
“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. And when I arrive, I will send any whom you approve with letters to take your gift to Jerusalem:” (1st Corinthians 16: 2 and 3).
Thus Paul begins the Sunday collection. Sunday has always been known as the First Day of the Week. And so, we Christians, meet together for our traditional morning worship of our Lord Jesus, as we should. This is a morning in remembrance of the Resurrection of our Lord so it truly is a re-living of Easter every week throughout the year. But it is also a weekly collection of the fruits of our labors, that is, some of our money. And we should do this also. Our Church needs money to pay its bills and staff including its clergy and administrative support. But Sunday is work, not a Sabbath Day in my humble opinion. The Sabbath should still be acknowledged and set aside on the Seventh Day, Saturday. However, I am aware that we have grown away from this.
In our readings for today they all seem to have either a money component or an invitation to the Gentiles, that is the Nations, to come and believe in the One True God. And in the case of the Gospel, to follow our Lord Jesus, to include the Gentiles.
Let us start with money and the Holy Place. After king Cyrus takes over from king Nebuchadnezzar he assists the Israelites by letting them rebuild the house of the Lord with whatever money of the day that they needed. He says, “and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill-offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem:” (Ezra 1: 4). Cyrus is not an Israelite himself,. He is a Persian, of the nations or Gentiles outside of Israel. And then we have Paul. Paul tells the Church in Corinth in our New Testament reading to collect early so as to expedite the transfer of money to Jerusalem, that city that kills the Prophets. (Luke 13: 34)
In the Gospel according to Matthew, our Lord Jesus knows what the Pharisees are up to and keeps his distance. He does his works of healing and salvation from the fringes and so opens himself to the Gentiles, the Nations. We too are called to care for those outside ourselves. And we are not to value money in any of its forms more than we value God or the body of Christ, that is, the Church. When it comes to the love of Jesus our Lord, there is no “us/them.” All believers are one body in Christ Jesus. Nothing separates us, not ethnicity, nor country of origin or its language, nor sex or its orientations, and certainly not money. We are a believing body of both the rich and the poor together.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John