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May 29, 2022

Year 2 - Week 38 (May 29 - June 4, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Joshua 4

Last time we saw Israel cross the Jordan on dry land, even as they had crossed the Red Sea, as the Ark of Yahweh, the God of Israel, went before them, and the Lord held back the waters until everyone had crossed over. We saw that this was a new “baptism” of Israel as they completed the Exodus and entered the Promised Land, as the ordained and chosen priestly people of God, led by Yahweh and faithful to Him. This time we will see them not hurry on from the place, but instead set up a sign and remembrance of the miracle, and of the Lord’s deliverance of them out of bondage and into the Promised Land.

Twelve Stones Set Up at Gilgal

4 When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua: 2 “Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, 3 and command them, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.’” 4 Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe.

5 Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.”

8 The Israelites did as Joshua commanded. They took up twelve stones out of the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord told Joshua, carried them over with them to the place where they camped, and laid them down there. 9 (Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.)

10 The priests who bore the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan, until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people crossed over in haste. 11 As soon as all the people had finished crossing over, the ark of the Lord, and the priests, crossed over in front of the people. 12 The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the Israelites, as Moses had ordered them. 13 About forty thousand armed for war crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for battle.

14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him, as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.

15 The Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 When the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet touched dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.

19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, 21 saying to the Israelites, “When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, and so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should note that the twelve stones represent the twelve tribes of Israel, the entire people, and should describe the shape of the altar built with them, with three layers of four stones each, and should also emphasize that these stones were not to be shaped by human hand or skill, but were to be as they were found, as an additional reminder that the work and the glory of the salvation of the people belongs to God, and not to their own strength or skill. The Leader should also point out that these instructions, for the people to explain to their children what the Lord had done for them, are an exact mirror of the instructions that God had given about the Passover, and how the questions of the children were to be an occasion for the parents to teach them about the glorious works of the Lord.)

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: 9-10

Last time, we saw St. Justin begin to explain what the Christians actually believe, starting from the accusations of wrongdoing, and explaining that Christians are actually devoted to righteousness and holiness, in love for God, and in the confidence that wrongdoers will truly receive a punishment from God. This time, we will see him continue with a further explanation of why the Christians do not worship the idols of the nations, and what they know to be true instead, and Who we worship, and how we worship Him.

Chapter 9

We do not worship with many sacrifices and floral offerings the things men have made, set in temples, and called gods. We know that they are inanimate and lifeless and have not the form of God (for we do not think that God has that form which some say they reproduce in order to give honor to Him) but have the names and shapes of those evil demons who have appeared [to men]. Why should we tell you, who already know, into what different shapes the workmen fashion their material, by carving, cutting, molding, and hammering? From vessels destined for vile purposes, by merely changing their shape and by skillfully giving them a new form, they often make what they call gods.

Thus, His name is applied to corruptible things that need constant care. This, we think, is not only stupid but also disrespectful to God, who is of ineffable glory and form. You are well aware of the fact that their skilled artisans are licentious men and, not to enter into details, are experienced in every known vice; they even defile the girls who work with them. What stupidity, that lustful men should carve and reshape gods for your veneration, and that such men should be appointed the guards of the temples wherein the gods are set up, not realizing that it is forbidden to declare or even think that men are the keepers of the gods.


Chapter 10

But we have learned from tradition that God has no need of the material gifts of men, since we see that He is the Giver of all things. We have been taught, are convinced, and do believe that He approves of only those who imitate His inherent virtues, namely, temperance, justice, love of man, and any other virtue proper to God who is called by no given name. We have also been instructed that God, in the beginning, created in His goodness everything out of shapeless matter for the sake of men.

And if men by their actions prove themselves worthy of His plan, they shall, we are told, be found worthy to make their abode with Him and to reign with Him, free from all corruption and pain. Just as in the beginning He created us when we were not, so also, we believe, He will consider all those who choose to please Him, because of their choice, to be worthy of eternal life in His presence. Our creation was not in our own power. But this—to engage in those things that please Him and which we choose by means of the intellectual faculties He has bestowed on us—this makes our conviction and leads us to faith.

Indeed, we think it is for the good of all men that they are not prevented from learning these things, but are even urged to consider them. For, what human laws were unable to effect, the Divine Word would have accomplished, had not the evil demons enlisted the aid of the various utterly evil inclinations, which are in every man by nature, and scattered many false and ungodly accusations—none of which, however, applies to us.

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 St. Justin’s explanation of how true worshippers of God should worship Him can basically be summed up as “being in communion with God and becoming like Him, that the true God has created us to be like Him and to live with Him as children with our Father in Heaven. It is worth noting how much better a destiny and purpose this is than the fear and worship of dead gods, or the pursuit of passing pleasures, wealth, or power.)

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: 41-52 (It Is Not So Among You; Blind Bartimaeus)

Last time we saw Jesus foretell His passion, death, and resurrection to His disciples for the third time, and how they did not understand yet again, to the point that two of them asked Him to be the top men in His kingdom. He corrected them, and told them, effectively, that those jobs were already filled, and we understood Him to be speaking of the Theotokos and St. John the Baptist, who are always shown to the right and the left hand of the Lord in the icons. This time, He will continue by making explicit how upside-down the Kingdom of God is when compared with the way of the world.

The Other Disciples Get Angry

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Discussion Questions

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should point out first how radical the Lord’s commandment that the first among His disciples will be the slave of all truly is; this is something that bears conversation and discussion. Then, in the story of Blind Bartimaeus, the Leader should point out that this is the last healing Mark shows us before the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and note that the blind man, by calling Jesus the Son of David, is proclaiming Him to be the Messiah, the Davidic King, the promised Anointed One, the Christ. Some have seen in this blind man’s cry the Scriptural source of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” since “son of David” is just a different way of calling Jesus the Christ.)

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

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

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

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