First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Moses speaks to the Israelites, who are about to enter the land promised to their ancestors. In this passage, he lays out the stark choice before them: choose life by loving and obeying the Lord; or choose death by following other gods.
15See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
Psalm: Psalm 1
They are like trees planted by streams of water. (Ps. 1:3)
1Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel | of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats | of the scornful!
2Their delight is in the law | of the Lord,
and they meditate on God’s teaching | day and night. R
3They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that | do not wither;
everything they | do shall prosper.
4It is not so | with the wicked;
they are like chaff which the wind | blows away.
5Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when | judgment comes,
nor the sinner in the council | of the righteous.
6For the Lord knows the way | of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked shall | be destroyed. R
Second Reading: Philemon 1-21
While Paul was in prison, he was aided by Onesimus, a man who had run away from Philemon, a slaveowner and a Christian friend of Paul. Paul told Onesimus to return to Philemon and encouraged Philemon to receive Onesimus back as a Christian brother.
1Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, 2to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God 5because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. 7I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.
8For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 9yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. 10I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. 11Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. 12I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 13I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. 15Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. 20Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
Gospel: Luke 14:25-33
Jesus speaks frankly about the costs of discipleship. Those who follow him should know from the outset that completing the course of discipleship will finally mean renouncing all other allegiances.
25Now large crowds were traveling with [Jesus;] and he turned and said to them, 26“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
Semicontinuous First Reading: Jeremiah 18:1-11
God teaches Jeremiah a lesson at a potter’s shop. Just as a potter may destroy an unacceptable vessel, starting over to refashion it into one of value, so God molds and fashions the nations, including Israel.
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2“Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
5Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. 9And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. 11Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.
Semicontinuous Psalm: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
You have searched me out and known me. (Ps. 139:1)
1Lord, you have | searched me out;
O Lord, you | have known me.
2You know my sitting down and my | rising up;
you discern my thoughts | from afar.
3You trace my journeys and my | resting-places
and are acquainted with | all my ways.
4Indeed, there is not a word | on my lips,
but you, O Lord, know it | altogether. R
5You encompass me, behind | and before,
and lay your | hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonder- | ful for me;
it is so high that I cannot at- | tain to it.
13For you yourself created my | inmost parts;
you knit me together in my | mother’s womb.
14I will thank you because I am mar- | velously made;
your works are wonderful, and I | know it well. R
15My body was not hid- | den from you,
while I was being made in secret and woven in the depths | of the earth.
16Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb; all of them were written | in your book;
my days were fashioned before they | came to be.
17How deep I find your | thoughts, O God!
How great is the | sum of them!
18If I were to count them, they would be more in number | than the sand;
to count them all, my life span would need to | be like yours. R