RCL C Proper 16 Complementary
Isaiah 58:9b-14, Psalm 103:1-8, Hebrews 12:18-29, Saint Luke13:10-17

From time to time, the Scriptures reveal to us what I like to call God’s economy. I mean by that the revelation of what God regards as valuable. The lesson from Isaiah and the Gospel proclaim what God regards as valuable. And if God regards something as valuable, we should regard it as valuable also. We should go and do likewise[1], as Jesus says to the lawyer who stupidly asked him who his neighbor is.

I shall go even further and say this. If it is revealed to us that something is valuable to God, we should create an account book, a ledger with credits and debits, that identifies how often we have done what God regards as valuable and how often we have left undone what God regards as valuable. The idea of a ledger is simple, I know. But we who want to do what God would have us do will take it and use it in order to progress in learning how to live as God would have us to live.

And so, in the Lessons today, what do we learn that God regards as valuable? Let’s look at the reading from Isaiah. “If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.”[2] Or hear the prophecy from the New American Bible: “If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.”[3] The rest of the reading is a catalog of the blessings, the good things, that will befall us in God’s economy if we do these things. God will feed us with the heritage of Jacob.[4]

And in the Gospel, we see Jesus removing the yoke of a spirit that had crippled a woman for eighteen years.[5] Jesus performs this removal of a yoke on a sabbath, giving rise to the question of when it is appropriate to do what God regards as valuable. Jesus’ reply settles the question, and the entire crowd rejoices at the wonderful things he was doing.

Removing a yoke, a burden; removing pointing a finger, finding fault; removing speaking evil; feeding the hungry; and satisfying the needs of the afflicted—these are the things that God values. These are the coins of exchange in the kingdom of God. They are the valuables that we are to share with anyone who wants them.

A ledger giving an account of instances we have done them, or left them undone, would reveal something important about us. It would reveal whether we have done God’s will or, alternatively, whether we just couldn’t be bothered. We are free to do either one. What will go into our ledger today?

[1] Saint Luke 10:37. Quotations from Scripture are the New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible except as noted.

[2] Isaiah 58:9b-10.

[3] Isaiah 58:9b-10, from the New American Bible.

[4] Isaiah 58:14.

[5] Saint Luke 13:11.