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June 5, 2022

Year 2 - Week 39 (June 5 - 11, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Joshua 5

Last time we read about how Joshua and the Israelites set up twelve stones inside the Promised Land, and twelve stones on the bed of the Jordan River where the priests with the Ark of the Covenant had stood while the people passed over on dry ground, as a sign and testimony for future generations to understand how Yahweh, the God of Israel, had delivered them from slavery and brought them into the land of promise. This time, we will see what they did once they arrived in the Promised Land.

The New Generation Circumcised

5 When all the kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them, because of the Israelites.

2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites a second time.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the warriors, had died during the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt.

5 Although all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people born on the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6 For the Israelites traveled forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the warriors who came out of Egypt, perished, not having listened to the voice of the Lord. To them the Lord swore that he would not let them see the land that he had sworn to their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 So it was their children, whom he raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.

8 When the circumcising of all the nation was done, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.

The Passover at Gilgal

10 While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

Joshua’s Vision

13 Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” 14 He replied, “Neither; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, “What do you command your servant, my lord?” 15 The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should note that this Person that appears to Joshua is understood clearly to be the Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, and therefore a pre-incarnate revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can tell that this is so because He tells Joshua to take the sandals from His feet, as Yahweh tells Moses at Mt. Sinai at the Burning Bush. It is notable, too, that He appears to Joshua at this point, after the people have renewed their faithfulness to God through obeying the commandment regarding circumcision, and through the celebration of the Passover.)

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: 11-12

Last time, we saw St. Justin explain why the Christians do not worship the idols of the nations, which are made by un-virtuous men, and how they worship the Most High God, and in what manner, and for what reason, they do so. This time, he will continue to explain where the loyalty of the Christian people lies, and how they are truly good citizens, even though they do not worship the gods of Greece and Rome.

Chapter 11

When you hear that we look forward to a kingdom, you rashly assume that we speak of a human kingdom, whereas we mean a kingdom which is with God. This becomes evident when, being questioned, we openly profess to be Christians, although we know well that for such a profession of faith the punishment is death. If we expected a human kingdom, we would deny that we are Christians, that we might not be put to death, and we would try to hide from you, that we might attain what we expect. But, because we do not place our hope in the present, we do not mind when men murder us, since death is inevitable anyhow.

Chapter 12

We, more than all other men, are truly your helpers and allies in fostering peace, since we believe that it is impossible for the wicked or the avaricious, or the treacherous, and the virtuous alike to hide from the sight of God, and that each man receives eternal punishment or salvation according to the merits of his actions. If everyone realized this, no one would prefer to be in sin even for a little while, knowing that he would incur the pains of eternal fire, but he would by all means control himself and adorn himself with virtue, in order to gain the favor of God and escape His punishments. It is not because of the laws and penalties you fix that men try to hide from you when they break the law, but they disobey the law knowing that it is possible to elude you, since you are mere men.

If, however, they learned and were convinced that nothing, whether in their actions or in their thoughts, can be hidden from the knowledge of God, they would live a completely orderly life, if only because of the threatened punishments, as you yourselves will admit. But you seem to dread lest all men become just and you no longer have any left to punish. Such might be the worry of public executioners, but it should not be the concern of righteous rulers.

As we said before, we believe that these things have been instigated by the evil demons who claim sacrifices and veneration even from those who do not live according to reason. But we do not presume that you who strive for piety and philosophy will act against reason. Still, if you, too, like thoughtless men, respect custom rather than truth, then do what is in your power. Rulers who prefer popular opinion to truth have as much power as robbers in the desert.

That you will not succeed is testified to by the Word, and we know no ruler more kingly or just than He except God [the Father] who begot Him. For, just as all men try to avoid inheriting the poverty, misery, and dishonor of their fathers, so will the man of reason refuse to choose whatever the Word forbids him to choose. That all these things should happen was foretold, I say, by our Teacher, Jesus Christ, who is the Son and Apostle of God, the Father and Ruler of all, and from whom we have received our name of Christians. Hence, we are convinced of the truth of all the things He taught us, because whatever He foretold would happen is actually happening; this, indeed, is the practice of God, to speak of something before it takes place and then to show it taking place just as He predicted.

We might stop here and add nothing more, since we plead for what is just and true. But, since we know how difficult it is to change over a mind trained in ignorance, we have decided to add a few observations to convince all lovers of truth, for we know that it is not impossible to dispel ignorance by setting truth against it.

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), 43–47.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader might point out that Justin, in this Apology addressed to the Emperors, is also manifestly demonstrating to the Emperors that he, and all Christians, are not afraid of them, and are refusing to worship them. He gives them enough credit to tell them what he thinks good rulers ought to do, but is not catering to their ego or their power or their expectations in the slightest; there is no compromise in his articulation of the Faith.)

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 12:1-12

Last week, we finished chapter 10 of Mark, with the Lord and His Disciples passing through Jericho on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover. We already read Chapter 11, in which the Lord enters Jerusalem at Palm Sunday, and enters the Temple and drives out the money changers, cleansing it and claiming it as “His Father’s House.” This week we will skip forward to Chapter 12, as He is preaching in the Temple, and making the final preparations for His Passion.

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

12 Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. 5 Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed.

6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this scripture:

‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
11 this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

12 When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.

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 parable of the Talents is directed, not against the entire nation of Israel, but specifically against the religious authorities, those who had been entrusted with the Vineyard of the Master, and who had abused their authority and refused to serve the Master of the Vineyard, instead claiming its increase all for themselves. This is specifically because of the way in which those who had been in charge of the Temple, who had used that authority to steal from the People of God. This is why they want to arrest Him when they hear the story. It is a good and important principle, that those who are most clearly condemned throughout Scripture are those who have abused the authority given to them by God and used it for their own gain.)

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?