Lectionary Reflection: The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

By Carol James

Friday, August 31

Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above.” James reminds us that God first, foremost and eternally offers us abundance. We may struggle to recognize it or to respond to it with our whole hearts. We may mistrust that God’s gifts are freely given. We may feel obligated to “pay them back,” or be ashamed because “we don’t deserve them.” Is discomfort or guilt the response we want to make to God’s generosity? Or will our celebration and praise have a greater power to participate in and multiply divine abundance?

The singer of the Song of Solomon can hardly contain the joy of being alive and being loved. The poet sees all creation participating in this invitation to rejoice. Desire is celebrated as a source of growth, motion and connection. Doing “the right thing” can be grim and sterile when it comes from a place of fear and constraint. Jesus wants us to look past the rules to a faith that shares its blessings from an abiding sense of love and gratitude. That faith grows sweet and nourishing like the fig on the tree, the grape on the vine. That faith bounds through the world like a flashing gazelle.

Carol James has been part of the cathedral community for over a decade. She has served as a co-mentor in the Education for Ministry program. She currently leads the evening prayer providers in the Jail Ministry and is a cathedral staff member.

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