Today’s entry continues a series of short musings about lectionary texts that may soon appear in your line-of-sight. These thoughts may be helpful in interpreting the appointed lessons with sensitivity to the realities faced by those who are older.
It seems appropriate to look at biblical texts from the viewpoint of older adults, who were among the original writers, hearers and subjects of Scripture. This month we’ll look at lectionary texts that may speak more directly to those of us who are older.
In February, the weeks’ lessons show us the depths of Jesus’ ministry, and the revealing of his full nature—two realities we can’t pass over in our rush towards Lent. The Epiphany of Jesus breaks into the world with power, drawing all of us—older adults included—together in purposeful living.
Sunday, February 2, 2020 (Presentation of Our Lord, Cycle A, *CEV)
Psalm 84 OR Psalm 24:7-10-14
Like Simeon and Anna, Jesus would face death. And in his dying, he rescued those of us who live in fear of our mortality. The “good man” Simeon and the elderly prophet Anna both waited for rescue and redemption, buoyed by their devotion to God. What seemed like an impossibility—after all those years—presented itself in a baby: God would in fact rescue the nation! Our own yearnings may match theirs. Like them, we, may never completely experience that deliverance in our lifetimes. Perhaps seeing is believing….
Sunday, February 2, 2020 (4th Sunday after Epiphany, Cycle A, CEV)
Micah 6:1-8 – At this stage in life, we can still see to it that mercy and justice come first in our priorities. In our national priorities as well. Why? We remember being rescued by God!
Psalm 15 – Like the Psalmist, we hope for others like us, who might epitomize these godly traits. And still we wait, especially when these personal characteristics seem scarce, or even disregarded by those in power.
1 Corinthians 1:18-21 – Something we should never forget, no matter how old: Knowledge does NOT equal wisdom. Knowledge is NOT power, either.
Matthew 5:1-12 – How might the Beatitudes describe the faithful living of people in our age cohort? How might we look at these exhortations and promises with different filters, different memories, different expectations of reward?
Sunday, February 9, 2020 (5th Sunday after Epiphany, Cycle A, CEV)
Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
Psalm 112:1-9 (10) Who among us will be remembered, and for what? Whatever our answers, a startling assertion at the other end of the spectrum: Evil people will disappear because they will never get what they really want. (Perhaps they fear being forgotten?)
1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16) – God-willing, we can eventually mature in our faith, and finally come to understand what might have escaped our notice earlier in life. Let’s face it: Wise people—many of them elderly—don’t think the same way as those who are immature. (Who could we invite into maturity?)
Matthew 5:13-20 – “This Little Light of Mine” comes to mind, especially the verse we’ve sung for decades: “Let it shine ‘til Jesus comes.” At this time in our lives, that early-in-life promise may mean something different. Perhaps it’s a reminder and a thank-you?
Sunday, February 16, 2020 (6th Sunday after Epiphany, Cycle A CEV)
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 – None of us is guaranteed longevity. And yet, “choosing life” means also choosing to live according to God’s will. Idolatry of any kind—whatever the other “gods”—shortens lives.
I Corinthians 3:1-9
Sunday, February 23, 2020 (Transfiguration of Our Lord, [Last Sunday after Epiphany] Cycle A, CEV)
Psalm 2 OR Psalm 99
2 Peter 1:16-21
Matthew 17:1-9 – Here two old prophets have a conversation with the relatively young Jesus. For those brief moments, what might they have talked about—the voices of experience and the voice of deliverance? What might today’s older adult (prophets) and younger prophets-to-be talk about?
Sunday, February 23, 2020 (Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, Cycle A CEV)
(On this Sunday, the Church observes the anniversary of the death of Polycarp, around A.D. 156. One of the first recorded martyrs of the faith, Polycarp refused to renounce his faith. In the face of a painful death, this 86-year old bishop defied civil authorities whose religion was focused on mythical deities, including the Emperor. Earlier in his life, he was instrumental in rejecting prevailing heresies whose subtleties had begun to captivate Christians.)
Mark 8:34-38 – How, in our older years, might we give up our lives for the sake of the Gospel? We know for certain that we gain nothing if we aspire to “owning the whole world”. That life goal leads to certain self-destruction. A warning to today’s would-be emperors and those who would follow them?
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 (Ash Wednesday, Cycle A CEV)
Joel 2:1-2. 12-17 – Hope for those who have yet to follow Christ: No matter how late in life, it’s not too late for us to turn back to God.
Isaiah 58:1-12 – What God has always required continue as God’s people-priorities: Prisoners, those who are poor, hungry and homeless, and those needing clothing. One added lifestyle twist, fitting the current news: Refraining from false accusations of any kind.
Psalm 51:1-17 – David’s sin required his repentance. Still, he worried deeply about being cut off from God’s mercy and blessing. Although forgiven, his later life would nevertheless unravel—a natural consequence?
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 – In spite of all of our hard times—we can see ourselves in some of Paul’s list of tough circumstances—God’s love has been there, real and comforting. Even encouraging us!
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
*CEV – Contemporary English Version