« October 3, 2021 | Main | October 17, 2021 »

October 10, 2021

Year 2 - Week 6 (October 10 - 16)

Day 1 (Monday)

Genesis 6:9-22

Last time we read about how things had gone in the world after Adam and Eve, how most of their descendants had become wicked, either through their own passions and desires (especially anger and possessiveness), or through the temptation and influence of fallen angels (which is to say, of demons). We saw, too, that there were still some righteous people, including Enoch, who lived his life so close to God that he was taken up into heaven and never died; we can rightly call him the first saint. We saw the world had grown so evil that God was preparing to bring judgment, to put an end to that evil, but that Enoch’s great-grandson, a man named Noah, was righteous, and that he had found favor with God. We will be reading his story for the next several weeks.

Noah Pleases God

9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and set the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die.

18 But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that God’s judgment comes after much patience; we saw last time God giving warnings, talking about how sinful humankind would be given 120 years more to repent. It’s not explicit in Scripture, but the tradition of the Church has been clear that part of the responsibility of the righteous line of Seth was to preach and proclaim and to warn and to urge the rest of humankind to repent, and that they were faithful in doing so. So God does not just come and destroy the world; He points out their sin, calls them to repentance, and gives them a great deal of time before the judgment comes. And when it does come, as we see here, God saves everyone who is willing to be saved (even though it seems like such a small number, we can be confident that God saved everyone who had not rejected Him), and saves all kinds of the animals, so that life will not be destroyed with the wicked. This shows us both the mercy of God, and the capacity of sinful humanity to destroy ourselves and the world around us by rejecting the mercy and love of God; from this, we should both take comfort, and understand a profound warning about the consequences of rebellion against God.)

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)

St. Augustine on the Ark of Noah

On Day 1 we talked about the Ark as showing God’s mercy, as well as the reality of the consequences of rebellion against Him. Today, we’ll look at how one of the Church Fathers, St. Augustine, interprets the story of Noah and the Ark. This is a nice example of how stories in the Bible can mean more than one thing; in this case, St. Augustine is saying that, besides being a story of human sin and divine judgment in the depths of the past, the Ark gives us an image, even a prophecy, of the coming of the Lord to be the perfect deliverance from sin and death.

The Ark is a Symbol of the Church

Undoubtedly the ark is a symbol of the city of God on its pilgrimage in history. It is a figure of the church that was saved by the wood on which there hung the “Mediator between God and men, himself man, Jesus Christ.” Even the very measurements of length, height and width of the ark are meant to point to the reality of the human body into which the Lord came, as it was foretold that He would come.

It will be recalled that the length of a normal body from head to foot is six times the width from one side to the other and ten times the thickness from back to front. Measure a man who is lying on the ground, either face down or face up. He is six times as long from head to foot as he is wide from left to right or right to left, and he is ten times as long as he is high from the ground up. That is why the ark was made three hundred cubits in length, fifty in breadth and thirty in height.

As for the door in the side, that surely, symbolizes the open wound made by the lance in the side of the Crucified—the door by which those who come to him enter in, in the sense that believers enter the church by means of the sacraments that issued from that wound.

It was ordered that the ark be made out of squared timbers—a symbol of the foursquare stability of a holy life, which, like a cube, stands firm however it is turned. So it is with every other detail of the ark’s construction. They are all symbols of something in the church.”

- St. Augustine of Hippo; The City of God, 15.26.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should point out that the connection between the Ark of Noah and the Church as “vessels of salvation” is a very common one in the life of the Church. St. Augustine makes the connection specific, not just in the similarity of what the Ark and the Church do (that is, save those who go inside them), but in connecting the dimensions of the Ark with the Incarnation of the Lord, that He became human, and by doing so, even to the point of death, has saved us from death and sin and brings us into everlasting life). Especially important is Augustine’s reference to the door, as showing the wound in the Lord’s side. In the Gospel of John (19:34) we see that one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear after He had died, and blood and water came out; we read this verse as we fill the Chalice with wine in preparation for the Divine Liturgy, so Augustine is connecting the door of the Ark with the Sacraments, saying that we enter into the vessel of salvation by receiving what God gives to us in the Church, which is to say, we are baptized in water, and receive His Body and Blood, and by these things we become members of His Body and are saved, being brought within the Ark of Salvation that is the Church.)

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)

Mark 1:40-45; 2:1-12

Last week we saw Jesus begin to preach, to heal, and to cast out demons, beginning in the city of Capernaum, from the house of Simon and Andrew. After healing many people, He went out into the wilderness to pray, and Simon, Andrew, James & John found Him there. They wanted Him to go back to the city, because everyone was looking for Him, but He told them that He was instead going to go out to the neighboring towns; He was coming to save more than just the city of Capernaum.

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

43 After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44 saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

2 When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them.

3 Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.

5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8 At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?

10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12 And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should point out two things. The first is that Jesus isn’t just doing an advanced form of medicine here, nor is He doing magic tricks. Both of those sorts of things require some effort or some method, but He simply speaks, and what He speaks comes to be; only God Himself could do this, so Mark shows us clearly that Jesus is God. The second point is that the people who are healed don’t convince Jesus to heal them, much less pay Him for healing; the ones that we see healed in this passage are specifically those who entrust and submit themselves to Him (which is what faith means). This is the same point that Augustine made in the Day 2 reading…there is no way to get into the Ark of Salvation without actually binding and submitting ourselves to the Lord. This is what we do when we are baptized and when we receive Holy Communion…but we need to be sure that we actually mean it, that we are actually being Faithful to God, when we receive Communion and the other sacraments of the Church. Otherwise, they will do us no good.)

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?