The coming Sunday’s lectionary readings can be found here .
Perhaps fortuitously considering this week’s texts, I’ve been reading the book Sleeping With Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by the counseling team of Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn (Paulist Press). The Linns introduce the reader to the spiritual practice of examen; of regularly, prayerfully reviewing our lives to identify those things that give us life and those things that seem to sap the life out of us. The title of the book refers to refugee children during World War II who were traumatized by their experiences of violence, fear and want, who were finally calmed and comforted by being given a piece of bread to sleep with each night — a tangible reminder that they were now being loved and cared for.
Our Old Testament lessons show us, alternately, a God eager to provide us with good things and a patriarch who, facing an uncertain and dangerous future, wound up clinging with all his might to…well, to God. Sunday’s Psalm alternatives speak to our needing and God’s providing. Our Gospel lesson portrays a Jesus who, despite his sorrow over his cousin John’s execution and his desire for solitude, nonetheless provided for the needy people flocking to him for help, in practical as well as spiritual ways. And then there’s Paul’s letter to the Romans, where even as he reiterates God’s love and care for Israel, Paul longs for his people to know the great gift of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
In a world where the gifts we seek oftentimes aren’t all that good — and in these times of economic turmoil when more and more people are being divested of those things that used to give them status, pleasure and a sense of identity — what are Sunday’s lessons saying to us today? What gives us, as Scripture puts it, “the life that really is life”? Discuss!