Re the Daily Office Readings September 24 Anno Domini 2020

Naaman cured of leprosy by A. Hirschvogel

The Lessons: Judith 12:1-20; Acts 19:11-20; Luke 4:14-30

Judith: exemplary courage over an extended period in which things could have gone terribly wrong at any moment. (“It would be a shame for us to let such a woman go without having sex with her. If we don’t reel her in, she’ll laugh at us.”) Her speech, a master class in double meanings (vv. 4, 14, 18). When does assassination belong in the asymmetrical conflict toolkit? Judith’s story is also part of that conversation.

Meanwhile, here’s Jesus in front of a Jewish audience illustrating “bring good news to the poor” by citing Elijah, who helped the widow at Zarephath in Sidon (and not the Israelite widows) and Elisha, who cleansed the Syrian general Naaman of leprosy (and not the Israelite lepers). Naaman—any different than Holofernes? On my extended “bucket list:” listen in on Judith, Esther, Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Priscilla (from the September 22 reading) comparing notes.

P.S. There is perhaps one important difference between Holofernes and Naaman. Both receive accurate intelligence re Israel, Holofernes from the Ammonite leader Achior (re the Lord’s protection of Israel), Naaman from a young Israelite girl captured in one of the Aramean raids (re a prophet with the gift of healing), Holofernes chooses to ignore the intelligence; Naaman to act on it.

Later in Luke we’ll hear Jesus tell this parable: “’A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’ Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that “looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.” Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.’”

“Let anyone with ears to hear listen” indeed!

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