The theme for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost is The Vanity of Wealth and Honor. Jesus used the occasion of the rich young man’s rejection of Him (last week’s Gospel) to instruct His disciples. He made a startling statement: ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’
Though the wealthy have the additional burden of earthly riches to tempt them to turn their eyes from the Kingdom of God (see the Old Testament lesson), it is the case the no person, rich or poor can save himself. Even our supposed ‘good works’ cannot appease God.
Are we, then, left without hope? No, for Jesus says, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’ God can even move an idolatrous rich man to set aside his riches and to rest his heart on God. That is the power of the Gospel.
Monday, 12 October 2009—Psalm 34:1–4; Antiphon, Psalm 34:18—The strange circumstances of this psalm are found in 1 Sam 21:10–15. David, in a moment of weakness of faith had sought protection from Saul in a foreign king, rather than trusting in the Lord. When he realized his sin, he faked insanity and then wrote this psalm which proclaims the truth that true deliverance is to be found only in the Lord. Neither riches nor earthly power can deliver us from our circumstances, only the Lord.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009—Psalm 119:9–16—Psalm 119, the longest of the psalms, is a pæan to the Word of God. This portion sings of the blessings of storing up God’s Word in our hearts. Ofttimes our children think it drudgery to memorize scripture passages; it is not until many years later that they recognize the blessing of knowing these nuggets of truth. We should all treasure the Word of God and delight in it as much as all riches.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009—Ecclesiastes 5:10–20—Many years ago, a reporter asked billionaire John D. Rockefeller, ‘How much is enough?’ His famous reply: ‘Just a little bit more.’ This passage from King Solomon, who possessed wealth of wisdom that surpassed his great wealth of riches, shows the futility of such thinking. Riches can be a blessing, but if they are allowed to control a person, they become a curse. Trusting in money more than in the One who provides material blessings is idolatry.
Thursday, 15 October 2009—Hebrews 4:1–13—This portion of our reading through the book of Hebrews contains an exhortation and a warning. We are exhorted to seek the true rest of the Lord, while warned not to make the mistake of the rebellious people of Israel, who hardened their hearts against the Lord, and did not enter into His rest.
Friday, 16 October 2009—Mark 10:23–31—Sunday’s Gospel is a continuation of last week’s. After the rich young man went away sorrowful, Jesus takes the opportunity to educate His disciples in the barrier that great wealth poses to one’s salvation. The temptation is to trust in the riches, rather than the Bestower of them. In fact, it is impossible, not only for the wealthy, but for anyone to earn His salvation by any means, even good works. ‘Who can be saved?’ they ask. Who, indeed? It is only by God’s grace that anyone can be saved, for all things are possible with God.
Saturday, 17 October 2009—Sunday’s hymn of the day, Take My Life and Let It Be (LSB 783) is the proper response of a Christian toward all he has. When we recognize that we are merely stewards of the gifts which God bestows, we will joyfully use them in His service, for the glory of God and for the furtherance of His Church.
Collect for Pentecost 20—O God, Your divine wisdom sets in order all things in heaven and on earth. Put away from us all things hurtful and give us those things that are beneficial for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves Zion Dexter and St. John Casey, IA