Article | June 16, 2017
Lectionary Reflection: The Second Sunday After Pentecost
How do you imagine God’s grace is expressed? The priestly author of this Sunday’s reading from Exodus describes one method among several. Recognizing the Israelites’ potential for righteousness despite their mixed track record, God offers a way of life, a covenant to summon the latent goodness in their human character.
Our reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans refers to “this grace in which we stand.” Although Paul would concur with the Old Testament writer that grace is not a bonus for past performance, the gift of which Paul writes is not one that is dispensed according to human potential. Paul’s insight, so poignantly linked to his own story, is that the full force of grace is aimed at the least righteous among us. This is an image of grace as an enveloping transformation.
The third reading for this Sunday is Matthew’s account of Jesus granting a special commission to the apostles. Jesus authorizes his followers, including Judas Iscariot, the one destined for an abject end, to cure disease (no copayments or deductibles in this plan) and to dispel demons. Matthew’s story does not deny the capacity of grace to be a catalyst and an instrument of conversion, but the grace of which Matthew writes is the privilege of being an instrument, even if it is only for a moment, of divine mercy.
Inducement, empowerment, enlistment: three images of grace, amplifying one another. What do you imagine God hopes for, enables and has sent you into the world to do?
This reflection was written by Jim Simpson. He is a member of the Grace Cathedral Congregation Council and a graduate of the Cathedral’s Education for Ministry program.