Weekly Liturgy booklets
Notes on the Service for June 13, 2021
1 Sam. 15:34 – 16:13 • Ps. 20 • 2 Cor. 5:6–17 • Mark 4:26–34
The collect, a modern composition, is informed by Paul’s doctrine of the church. But it is difficult to imagine Paul’s having written a phrase as clumsy as “minister your justice with compassion....”
Last Sunday’s reading from I Samuel was the story of the judge and king-maker Samuel’s having chosen Saul, despite his misgivings, as the first king of Israel. Today we read that Samuel got so disillusioned with Saul that he searched for a replacement among the sons of Jesse the Benjaminite. Just as his ancestor Benjamin had been the favored youngest son of the patriarch Israel, so Jesse’s youngest son is the favored one, the handsome herd-boy, David. Rubbing olive oil on the head will remain the prescribed ritual for king-making.
The “you/thee” for whom Ps.20 prays is an Israelite king, one of David’s successors. A 2nd century pagan variant of Ps 20, either adapted from this psalm or derived from a polytheist original, has been found in Egypt.
As our epistles from II Corinthians continue, today Paul reminds his Corinthian converts that while they are “away from” the Lord insofar as they are living on earth, they must live by faith. Paul then [in the bracketed section] defends his ministry against the suggestion that some must have made that Paul was “beside himself” by saying that any such ecstasy he experienced was from the Lord. Paul will return to discussion of his mystical visions in a section of chapter 12 to be read July 4.
Today’s passage finishes with Paul’s Easter conviction that Christ died for all, and thus all now can live in Christ, who has made all creation new. This convection entered the ‘79 Prayer Book in one Lenten proper preface and in Eucharistic Prayer D, “live no longer unto ourselves, but unto him who died for us....”
In Mark’s Gospel, after Jesus has called his twelve apostles, he declares that his true family is not his biological relatives, but those who do God’s will. Then follow several parables about the kingdom, expressed in agricultural terms. Today we hear two of those parables, the one about seed sown and sprouting on its own, and the one about mustard. The mustard seed parable is puzzling, because the variety of mustard grown in North America does not have an especially tiny seed, nor is it our biggest shrub.
June 14 will commemorate Basil the Great, 4th cent. master theologian, liturgist, and organizer of monastic communities of the Orthodox East.
—Rev. Stephen Weissman | St. Louis, Missouri
Reprinted with permission.
June 13, 2021