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June 19, 2022

Year 2 - Week 41 (June 19-25, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Joshua 7 (Achan’s Sin & Punishment)

Last time, we saw the people of Israel actively waiting upon the Lord, marching around the city of Jericho without trying to take it themselves, and how on the seventh day, the Lord knocked down the wall and opened the city to them. We saw God command them to not take any loot for themselves, but to destroy the city completely, because it was under the ban, dedicated to destruction because of the evil that its people had committed and their unwillingness to repent. This time, we will see one of the people break that commandment, and what the consequences are.

The Sin of Achan and Its Punishment

7 But the Israelites broke faith in regard to the devoted things: Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things; and the anger of the Lord burned against the Israelites.

2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 Then they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Not all the people need go up; about two or three thousand men should go up and attack Ai. Since they are so few, do not make the whole people toil up there.” 4 So about three thousand of the people went up there; and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them, chasing them from outside the gate as far as Shebarim and killing them on the slope. The hearts of the people melted and turned to water.

6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the ground on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7 Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned their backs to their enemies! 9 The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will you do for your great name?”

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why have you fallen upon your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I imposed on them. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have acted deceitfully, and they have put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they turn their backs to their enemies, because they have become a thing devoted for destruction themselves. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.

13 Proceed to sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “There are devoted things among you, O Israel; you will be unable to stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” 14 In the morning therefore you shall come forward tribe by tribe. The tribe that the Lord takes shall come near by clans, the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households, and the household that the Lord takes shall come near one by one. 15 And the one who is taken as having the devoted things shall be burned with fire, together with all that he has, for having transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and for having done an outrageous thing in Israel.’”

16 So Joshua rose early in the morning, and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 He brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the Zerahites was taken; and he brought near the clan of the Zerahites, family by family, and Zabdi was taken. 18 And he brought near his household one by one, and Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and make confession to him. Tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

20 And Achan answered Joshua, “It is true; I am the one who sinned against the Lord God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. They now lie hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 They took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites; and they spread them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, with the silver, the mantle, and the bar of gold, with his sons and daughters, with his oxen, donkeys, and sheep, and his tent and all that he had; and they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord is bringing trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him to death; they burned them with fire, cast stones on them, 26 and raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore that place to this day is called the Valley of Achor.

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 key to this passage is the term “devoted” and what it means. It means literally “what was set apart,” and refers to the fact that Jericho and everything in it was under ban, dedicated for destruction. We see this indicated in verse 12, when the Lord says: “Therefore the Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they turn their backs to their enemies, because they have become a thing devoted for destruction themselves.” The sense here is like what we see in the New Testament, with the discussion of the separation of the wheat from the chaff. The chaff is not good for anything, and is separated out to be disposed of by burning, while the wheat is what is good. Jericho, and everything that is in it, has been weighed by the Lord and found to have nothing to be saved left in it. Those who could be saved, Rahab and her family, have been delivered, even as Lot and his family were delivered from Sodom; the rest of the city is separated out from the living, dedicated to destruction. Aachan, in choosing to save something from Jericho, has brought that corruption and evil into the camp of Israel; unless that corruption is cut out, it will poison even God’s people. The point of this, then, is that we cannot play with fire, we cannot pretend that we can hold onto a little bit of sin and evil in our own lives, and not be corrupted by them. Sin destroys; we must abandon all of those things that lead to destruction.)

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)

First Apology of Justin Martyr - 7: 15

Last time, St. Justin promised the emperors that he would provide some examples of the teaching of Jesus Christ, and of how it had changed the lives of Christian people. This time, he will offer the example of Christian chastity, Christian brotherly love, and Christian generosity as proofs of the transformative power of the Gospel.

Chapter 15

Thus did He speak concerning chastity: ‘Whoever looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart before God.’ And, ‘If thy right eye is an occasion of sin to thee, pluck it out for it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of Heaven with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into everlasting fire.’ And, ‘Whosoever marries her who has been divorced from another husband, commits adultery.’ And, ‘There are eunuchs who were born so; and there are eunuchs who were made so by men; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake; not all however can receive this saying.’

As all who, according to the human law, contract a second marriage are sinners in the eyes of our Master, so are those who look upon a woman with lustful eyes. Not only he who actually does commit adultery, but also he who wishes to do so, is repudiated by God, since not only our actions, but even our inner thoughts, are manifest to Him.

Many men and women who were disciples of Christ from childhood remain pure at sixty or seventy years of age; I am proud to say that I can cite examples from every nation. Why should we mention here the countless throng of those who turned from intemperance to learn our teaching? Christ came, indeed, to call to repentance not the just or the pure, but the impious, the incontinent, and the unjust, for He said: ‘I came not to call the just, but the sinners to repentance.’ The Heavenly Father wishes the repentance of a sinner, rather than his punishment.

Concerning the love we should have for all, Christ thus taught: ‘If you love those who love you, what new thing do you do? For even the fornicators do this. But I say unto you, pray for your enemies, love them that hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them who insult you.’ He taught to share our goods with the needy and to do nothing for our own personal glory, when He said: ‘Give to everyone who asks of you, and do not turn your back on him who would borrow; for if you lend to them who you hope will repay you, what new thing do you do? Even the publicans do this.  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where rust and moth consume, and where thieves break in; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth consumes. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Store up treasures, therefore, in heaven, where neither rust nor moth consumes.’

And, ‘Be kind and merciful as your Heavenly Father also is kind and merciful, who makes His sun to rise on sinners, and on the just and the wicked. Be not anxious about what you shall eat, or how you shall dress; for are you not better than the birds and the beasts? And yet God feeds them. Therefore be not anxious about what you shall eat, or how you shall dress, for your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. For where the treasure is, there also is the mind of man.’ And, ‘Do not these things to be gazed at by men; otherwise you shall have no reward from your Father who is in Heaven.’

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), 47–50.

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 first proof is that the truth of the Gospel has delivered even those who had been slaves to sexual sin into purity, and had kept those who had been disciples from their childhood chaste and temperate throughout their entire life. This is a proof because the willingness to limit one’s physical desires was almost unheard of in the Greek and Roman world, and even those who agreed to it in theory struggled in practice. But for those who follow Christ with their whole heart, the miracle is accomplished. For the rest of the passage, Justin is talking about the way Christians treat one another, in accordance with the Lord’s commandments. We see him actually abandon his own argument here, and simply begin to quote the words of the Lord here; he clearly believes that the Lord’s words need no interpretation here, and is eager to share the wonder of the truth of the Lord’s teaching with the emperors.)

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 12:28-44 (First Commandment, David's Son, Widow's Mite)

Last time we read about Jesus preaching in the Temple, embarrassing both the Pharisees and the Sadducees as they came to test him. This time we will see the Lord speak to one of the scribes, those who spent their time in copying the Scripture, and teaching him what is truly important.

The First Commandment

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

The Question about David’s Son

35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

37 David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

Jesus Denounces the Scribes

38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The Widow’s Offering

41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

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 there here, as before the Lord arrives in Jerusalem, He returns to His basic point that the true religion He is proclaiming turns everything else upside down. The focus of true worship should be to love God and our neighbor, rather than to offer all the sacrifices correctly; and as an example, the Lord presents the poor widow, and proclaims that she has given more than anyone else, because she has given all that she has. Along with that, He highlights the faithlessness of the religious leaders, and how they are pretending to be holy for the sake simply of accumulating wealth from the poor and downtrodden who come under their control, and how they will receive true justice for this from 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?