Year 3 - Week 4 (September 25 - October 1, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Genesis 13:1-18 (Abram and Lot Separate)

Last time we read from chapter 12 about how God called Abram to leave his homeland, and how he arrived in Canaan. The latter portion of chapter 12, which we did not read last week, but read last year in week 14, shows what happened when there was a famine, and how Abram and his household went into Egypt, where Abram lied to Pharaoh about his wife, and said that she was his sister, so that Pharaoh tried to take her as his own wife, until the Lord sent sickness and plague upon his household to prevent this from happening. Pharaoh was (not unreasonably) irritated with Abram, and gave Sarah back to him, and sent him and his household away. This is where we will pick up the story.

Abram and Lot Separate

13 So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.

2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 He journeyed on by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. 5 Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them living together; for their possessions were so great that they could not live together, 7 and there was strife between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites lived in the land.

8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders; for we are kindred. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 Lot looked about him, and saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. 11 So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward; thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.

14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should note that Lot chose what seemed to be the best portion, but the result was that he went to live among great sinners, and became separated from the Lord and His blessings. Meanwhile, Abram receives here, for the first time, the promise that his descendants will inherit the land. We must remember that, at this time, Abram and his wife are both already elderly, past their 80’s, and no longer able to have children, and have never had any children up to this point, so what God is promising is impossible in terms of any human experience. This is God’s promise to raise up from Abram, in an entirely miraculous way, a new nation, that is particularly and uniquely His own priestly people.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always)

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Prayer at the Second Antiphon

When we begin the Divine Liturgy Sunday morning (at 9:30 am or so), we start with the Great Litany (with all the Lord, have mercy’s), and then we sing either two Psalms and the Beatitudes, or selected verses from the Psalms, together with a refrain. These are called Antiphons, because they are sung back and forth by two choirs. While they are being sung, the Priest prays a series of three prayers on behalf of all the people, for the beginning of the Liturgy. We will read the second of these today.

Prayer at the Second Antiphon

Lord our God, save Your people and bless Your inheritance; protect the whole body of Your Church; sanctify those who love the beauty of Your house; glorify them in return by Your divine power; and do not forsake us who hope in You. For Yours is the dominion, the kingdom, the power, and the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should point out how this prayer is concerned with the Church gathered for worship, entrusting tha Faithful to the care of the Lord, affirming that we are His. It is also worth noting the reciprocity indicated here: the Faithful have loved the beauty of the Lord’s house, more than every desirable thing in the world, and the prayer asks that the Lord will glorify them and not forsake those who have put their hope and trust in Him. This is the natural thing to happen for those who have forsaken the brokenness of the world and chosen the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it does not feel natural or certain to us, and it is perhaps for this reason precisely that we pray for it.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

Matthew 2:19-23; 3:1-12

Last time, we saw the Wise Men visit Jesus in Bethlehem, and then both the Wise Men and Jesus, Mary, & Joseph had to flee, as Herod sent his soldiers to kill every child 2 years old and younger in the region of Bethlehem. The wise men returned to their countries, but an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Jesus and His mother to Egypt to escape. This time, we will see them return and go to Galilee, and John the Baptist will begin to preach.

The Return from Egypt

19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20 “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazarene.”

The Proclamation of John the Baptist

3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader can point out a few things. First, more as a point of interest, the fact that Jesus spent His childhood in Egypt is something we easily forget. From that, it is reasonable to assume, contrary to many, that Jesus spoke Greek comfortably and fluently…although Greek was a common language in Galilee “of the Gentiles” at this time as well. Second, as we see Matthew introduce John the Baptist, it is worth connecting Matthew’s focus on the prophecies of the Old Testament with his presentation of John, the “last” prophet sent to the people of Israel before the coming of the Messiah. Everything in the final two paragraphs is focused on warning the people, and especially the Pharisees and Sadducees, their leaders, that the time is approaching quickly when their fruit will be required from them. The point about the axe being at the root of the trees is a vivid image, and one that we often see in icons of the Lord’s Baptism. The image of the winnowing fork speaks of the Lord calling all His people to be Faithful and to follow Him; but those who do not will be cleared and removed from the Promised Land, as in fact happens in 70 AD and 135 AD.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?