Readings: January 31, 2016, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from the Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Jeremiah 1:4-5

      Demolish, and Then Start Over

The word of the Lord came to me, saying:

“Before I shaped you in the womb,  I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations that’s what I had in mind for you.”

“But you—up on your feet and get dressed for work! Stand up and say your piece. Say exactly what I tell you to say. Don’t pull your punches or I’ll pull you out of the lineup.

“Stand at attention while I prepare you for your work. I’m making you as impregnable as a castle, immovable as a steel post, solid as a concrete block wall.

You’re a one-man defense system against this culture, against Judah’s kings and princes, against the priests and local leaders. They’ll fight you, but they won’t even scratch you. I’ll back you up every inch of the way, says the Lord.”

  •   1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13

Some of you keep competing for so-called “important”  spiritual gifts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.

      The Way of Love

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first”, doesn’t fly off the handle,, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back but keeps going to the end. Love never dies.

Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

  •  Luke 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the Synagogue. And he concluded: “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son, the one we’ve known since he was a youngster?”

He answered, “I suppose you’re going to quote the proverb, ‘Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.’ Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian.”

That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.

 

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