Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – Year B

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

The primary theme today in the Gospel is marriage. Here we are not to think simplistically of the varied forms of the human institution of marriage found in different periods of history. We are instead focused on the biblical understanding of God’s will for marriage as a union between two people which creates a new, complex personality out of the two. Jesus’ disapproval of divorce is clear and uncompromising. We may note that, in the words ofProfessor Reginald Fuller, “It is often the current institutionalized form of marriage that many people are really rejecting, not marriage as intended byGod.”

The first reading continues our exploration of the part of the Hebrew scriptures known as the Writings. Today we begin reading the Book of Job, a brief story that seeks to understand why bad things happen to good people. We are introduced to Job and to the strange wager between God and Satan that leads to the testing of righteous Job’s faith.

In our second reading, we begin reading the Letter to the Hebrews. This early Christian work seems to have been intended particularly for Jewish Christians to assist them in understanding the work of Christ in images familiar to them. In today’s passage, the full humanity of Jesus and his suffering and death are explained as essential to his role of redeeming all humanity, as illustrated by quotations from the psalms.

We find in our worship that the Christian message is a call to put aside the conventions of human society and to take up the new life of God’s kingdom. That new life calls us to rethink all aspects of our ways of living, even our views of marriage. Those who live in committed lifetime relationships must be certain that what they seek is the relationship God wills and not simply the conventional understanding of the world.

Our worship together is the clearest sign that we are responding to God’s call to be different from the world even as we live in it. A gathering of people which welcomes everyone to a common table is not conventional. It is a sign of God’s kingdom.


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