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May 22, 2022

Year 2 - Week 37 (May 22-28, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Joshua 3 (Israel Crosses the Jordan)

Last time, we saw Joshua send two spies to Jericho, where they were sheltered by a woman named Rahab, who protected them from the soldiers of the king of the city who were hunting for them, and asked them to protect her and her family when they took the city. She confessed that Yahweh, the God of Israel, was the true God of heaven and earth, and renounced her former loyalty to the false demon gods she had previously served, and pledged herself to the Lord alone. The two spies returned to Joshua after evading the hunting soldiers, and informed him of what they had learned. Joshua confessed that the Lord had already delivered the land into their hands, and prepared for the crossing of the Jordan. Today, we will see Israel finally cross into the Promised Land, 40 years after they left Egypt.

Israel Crosses the Jordan

3 Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim with all the Israelites, and they came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing over. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3 and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, 4 so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before.

Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance of about two thousand cubits; do not come any nearer to it.” 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 To the priests Joshua said, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on in front of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went in front of the people.

7 The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. 8 You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 9 Joshua then said to the Israelites, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.”

10 Joshua said, “By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: 11 the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. 12 So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.”

14 When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. 15 Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, 16 the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off.

Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

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 the Ark of the Covenant, in the Tabernacle, is the footstool of the Lord, a sign and assurance of Yahweh’s presence with His people. So it is the Yahweh, the God of Israel, Himself, Who leads the people into the Jordan River, and makes it stop in its flow so that the people can pass through on dry ground. This recalls not just the crossing of the Red Sea, but also anticipates and foreshadows the Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan, by which He leads us into everlasting life.)

2) What do we learn about God in this reading?

3) What do we learn about human beings in this reading?

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)

First Apology of Justin Martyr - 2: 7-8

Last time, St. Justin examined the common accusation against the Christians, that they were “atheists,” and noted on the one hand that, so far as denying the worthiness or divinity of the pagan gods of the Greeks and Romans, the Christians were hardly alone in so doing, since the philosophers and poets of the same Greeks and Romans often did the same, and were admired for so doing, but further emphasized that they were so much the more NOT atheists, because they worshipped in truth and devotion the One True God Who has created all things. This time, St. Justin will consider in more depth the question of the just punishment of wrongdoers.

Chapter 7

Someone will object that some Christians have already been arrested and convicted as criminals. Indeed, you often condemn many persons after an individual investigation into the lives of the accused, but you do not condemn them because of other persons previously convicted. On the whole, we admit one thing: among the Greeks those who announce their own particular theories are all addressed by the one name of ‘philosophers,’ even though they hold contrary opinions; so, among the non-Hellenic peoples, those who are and those who seem to be wise all have the one common name—they are all named Christians.

Hence, we ask that the actions of all those denounced to you be judged, so that whoever is convicted may be punished as an offender, not as a Christian. If it is apparent that a man is innocent, let him be dismissed as a Christian who has committed no crime. We will not ask you to punish the accusers, for they are sufficiently punished by their present iniquity and ignorance of fine and noble things.

Chapter 8

You can be sure that we have spoken these things for your benefit, since we, when on trial, can always deny [that we are Christians]. But we do not desire to live by lying. We are desirous of an eternal and good life; we strive for the abode of God, the Father and Creator of all; we make haste to profess our faith; we believe with firm conviction that they can attain these things who have shown God by their works that they follow Him and love to make their home with Him where there is no sin to cause disorder. In brief, this is what we look for and what we have learned from Christ and in turn teach to others.

Plato also stated that Rhadamanthus and Minos would punish the wicked who came before them. We declare that the very same thing will take place, but that it will be Christ who will assign the punishment to sinners. And in their very bodies, reunited to their souls, they will endure the pangs of torment eternally, and not only for a period of one thousand years as Plato said. If anyone shall say that this is incredible or impossible, this ‘error’ still is ours and of no concern to anybody else, as long as we are not convicted of having committed any wicked deed.

Thomas B. Falls with Justin Martyr, The First Apology, The Second Apology, Dialogue with Trypho, Exhortation to the Greeks, Discourse to the Greeks, The Monarchy or The Rule of God, vol. 6, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1948), 39–43.

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 Justin is careful to admit that it is possible that some who call themselves Christians may indeed be genuine evildoers; he asks the emperors simply to investigate the real actions of anyone who is accused of being a Christian, and not simply to condemn them for being a Christian. He makes clear, however, that he is asking this not for the saving of his own life, but rather for the good of the emperors; he, and all Christians, are not afraid of death as an unjust penalty for faithfulness to the one true judge of all things, but the emperors, who are judging unjustly, are in genuine peril, for they have set themselves against the Creator and ruler of all.)

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 10:32-45

Last time we saw the Rich Man approach Jesus and ask what he needed to do to be saved. When Jesus told him to obey the law, he replied that he had always done so, and Jesus replied that all he lacked was to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and come and follow Jesus. The rich man left very sad, unwilling to leave his possessions behind, and Jesus preached to His disciples about how hard it is for the wealthy to be saved, because they are themselves enslaved to their own possessions, but encouraged them that even their deliverance was possible with God, that even the rich could be freed from that slavery to wealth. This time, we will see Jesus tell His disciples for a third time what is about to happen in Jerusalem, and how they completely misunderstand once more.

A Third Time Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

The Request of James and John

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

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 James and John have clearly not understood what Jesus is saying, since they ask for this honor immediately after He has told them once more about His passion. The question of for whom it is prepared to sit at the right and left hand of the Lord is an interesting question. In the icons, we always see the Mother of God and John the Baptist to the Lord’s right and left hand, and it is probably this that the Lord is referring to. But, especially in this context, it may also refer to the two thieves who are crucified to His right and left hand, and since He asks them if they are able to drink the cup that He drinks, it is possible that He is thinking of this as well. Both James and John will suffer greatly in their faithful service and obedience to Him, and James will indeed be martyred. But neither of them are going to be crucified with Him; and they would not ask to be if they understood that this is what it would mean for them to have what they ask for.)

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?