On God’s Side

Eight Sunday after Pentecost

Processional Hymn:

A Reading from the Book of 1st Kings 3:5-12
5That night the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
6Solomon replied, “You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.
7“Now, O LORD my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm 119:129-136
129Your laws are wonderful.
No wonder I obey them!
130The teaching of your word gives light,
so even the simple can understand.
131I pant with expectation,
longing for your commands.
132Come and show me your mercy,
as you do for all who love your name.
133Guide my steps by your word,
so I will not be overcome by evil.
134Ransom me from the oppression of evil people;
then I can obey your commandments.
135Look upon me with love;
teach me your decrees.
136Rivers of tears gush from my eyes
because people disobey your instructions.

Epistle Hymn:

A Reading from the Letter to the Romans 8:26-39
26And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

31What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?32Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?33Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36(As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

Sequence Hymn:

A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to Matthew 13:31-33,44-52
31Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

33Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

44“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

45“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

47“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. 48When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. 49That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, 50throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51Do you understand all these things?”
“Yes,” they said, “we do.”

52Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”

The Gospel of the Lord!
Praise to you Lord Christ!

Commentary:
Here are four parables. 1. That of the treasure hid in the field. Many slight the gospel, because they look only upon the surface of the field. But all who search the Scriptures, so as in them to find Christ and eternal life, Joh 5:39, will discover such treasure in this field as makes it unspeakably valuable; they make it their own upon any terms. Though nothing can be given as a price for this salvation, yet much must be given up for the sake of it. 2. All the children of men are busy; one would be rich, another would be honourable, another would be learned; but most are deceived, and take up with counterfeits for pearls. Jesus Christ is a Pearl of great price; in having him, we have enough to make us happy here and forever. A man may buy gold too dear, but not this Pearl of great price. When the convinced sinner sees Christ as the gracious Saviour, all things else become worthless to his thoughts. 3. The world is a vast sea, and men, in their natural state, are like the fishes. Preaching the gospel is casting a net into this sea, to catch something out of it, for His glory who has the sovereignty of this sea. Hypocrites and true Christians shall be parted: miserable is the condition of those that shall then be cast away. 4. A skilful, faithful minister of the gospel, is a scribe, well versed in the things of the gospel, and able to teach them. Christ compares him to a good householder, who brings forth fruits of last year’s growth and this year’s gathering, abundance and variety, to entertain his friends. Old experiences and new observations, all have their use. Our place is at Christ’s feet, and we must daily learn old lessons over again, and new ones also.

Story Time

How would you get young people interested in classical music? A few years ago Richard Dreyfuss starred in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus. You’ve probably seen it. Mr. Holland is a high school music teacher who is passionate about music. He loves Beethoven, Bach, Mozart. For Mr. Holland “music is…about heart, it’s about feelings, moving people, and something beautiful, and it’s not about notes on a page.” But how do you communicate that passion to a bunch of teenagers who have as much energy for Bach as they do for household chores? When Mr. Holland starts talking about the classical composers he meets a sea of blank faces and bored looks.

And then one-day Mr. Holland discovers something amazing. He starts playing one of the hit pop songs of the time. All of a sudden the students perk up, their feet start tapping to the beat, their heads start nodding with the rhythm. “You like that huh?” asks Mr. Holland. “Do you know what it is? It’s Beethoven.” This pop song has taken one of Beethoven’s melodies and set it to a rock beat, played it with electric guitars rather than violins, and given it lyrics that speak about boys and girls falling in love. All of a sudden Beethoven is not some ancient relic of a bygone era. All of a sudden Beethoven is relevant, Beethoven has become meaningful to Mr. Holland’s students. Beethoven connects.

When people hear about Christianity they can sometimes become a bit like Mr. Holland’s students. Their eyes glaze over, their face goes blank, and they’re bored by it. They’re telling me, “I’m not interested in a faith which is nothing more than an ancient relic of a bygone era. I’m interested in a faith which is a dynamic force in my era. I’m not interested in a faith that speaks to the questions of yesterday, I’m interested in a faith that speaks to the questions I face today. I’m not interested in a faith that dredges through the issues of the past. I’m interested in a faith that engages with the issues of today.” Do you ever find yourself feeling like that?

You know the wonderful thing about the Christian faith is that it can be like Beethoven was for Mr. Holland’s students. It’s a song that can be played anew in every era; a melody line that repeats through history, but played using the instruments of our time, with a beat we can dance to. And the task of the Christian church is to take this ancient song and play it in such a way that it connects with the people of our time, the mood of our time and the issues of our time.

Source: Scott Higgins

One more story to tie this all together.

During the US civil war Abraham Lincoln met with a group of ministers for a prayer breakfast. Lincoln was not a church-goer but was a man of deep, if at times unorthodox, faith. At one point one of the ministers said, “Mr President, let us pray that God is on our side”. Lincoln’s response showed far greater insight, “No, gentlemen, let us pray that we are on God’s side.”

Lincoln reminded those ministers that religion is not a tool by which we get God to do what we want but an invitation to open ourselves to being and doing what God wants.
We must remember through both our prayers, words and actions that we are on God’s side. We may stumble but it is through Christ that we are washed anew. I call upon you all to return to God, and His most Holy Church and Her Traditions. It is with God that we have life, we have sanctuary, we have peace and substance. He succors us spiritually and physically. In this unstable political time in America we must remember the wise words of President Lincoln, let us pray that we are on God’s side, and pray that He gives us the Wisdom He bestowed upon Solomon to do His will amongst His Children!

Remember what St. Paul so adequately and powerfully wrote in his Letter to the Romans, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”, but we must always live for God and obey His Commands. Come and feast on His Truth, His Holy Mana, His Table is spread for all sinners and His Sacrifice is for us all that take it upon us to claim the title of Child of God and confess to the world that we are His!

Come ye Sinners to the Savior’s great feast and take upon His Holy Yoke and ever pray that we are on His side!

All God’s Church says: AMEN!

Let us walk unto the Lord and offering and a sacrifice.

Offertory Hymn:

Doxology

Communion Hymn:

Spiritual Communion:
My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Recessional Hymn:

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