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Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost A, November 19, 2023

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Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost A, November 19, 2023

“What’s it worth to you?”  Maybe I just didn’t have the right kind of friends, but I heard that demand from them quite often during my adolescence.  I’d make a polite request to see or share whatever new toy or activity they were enjoying, and their rejoinder would demand an exchange of value for value.

This world broken by sin has three ways in which we give and receive goods and services from one another; there’s 1) giving and sharing; 2) trading and purchasing; 3) coercing and taking.  The first delivers value with no thought of return.  The second exchanges value for value.  The third takes away value with no thought of compensation.  You do them all; it is the way the world works.

We would be mistaken, though, to reason that God must work this way.  The prophet Zephaniah makes it extremely clear that God is not much interested in trading or purchasing—not much interested in exchanging value for value.  The Lord rejects silver and gold, property and wealth.  God’s wrath is no respecter of persons:  from the lowest to the highest “the whole earth shall be consumed.”

No, our Lord’s interest is not exchange but redemption.  As we learn in the catechism: “he has redeemed me a lost and condemned person not with silver or gold but with his own precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.”  Such redemption lies outside of reason; it belongs to faith alone.

Discuss:  Consider various times you’ve demanded payment; do you have any guilt?

Pray:  Lord, hold me faithfully in Jesus and his redemption of me.  Amen

Zephaniah 1:7-18 (14-18 published here) English Standard Version

14 The great day of the Lord is near,

near and hastening fast;

the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;

the mighty man cries aloud there.

15 A day of wrath is that day,

a day of distress and anguish,

a day of ruin and devastation,

a day of darkness and gloom,

a day of clouds and thick darkness,

16 a day of trumpet blast and battle cry

against the fortified cities

and against the lofty battlements.

17 I will bring distress on mankind,

so that they shall walk like the blind,

because they have sinned against the Lord;

their blood shall be poured out like dust,

and their flesh like dung.

18 Neither their silver nor their gold

shall be able to deliver them

on the day of the wrath of the Lord.

In the fire of his jealousy,

all the earth shall be consumed;

for a full and sudden end

he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.


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