First Reading

Hosea 10:1-15 NRSV

A Reading from the Book of Hosea.

Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars. Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars, and destroy their pillars. For now they will say: “We have no king, for we do not fear the Lord, and a king—what could he do for us? ”They utter mere words; with empty oaths they make covenants; so litigation springs up like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field. The inhabitants of Samaria tremble for the calf of Beth-aven. Its people shall mourn for it, and its idolatrous priests shall wail over it, over its glory that has departed from it. The thing itself shall be carried to Assyriaas tribute to the great king. Ephraim shall be put to shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his idol. Samaria’s king shall perish like a chip on the face of the waters. The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. Thorn and thistle shall grow upon their altars. They shall say to the mountains, Cover us, and to the hills, Fall on us. Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned, O Israel; there they have continued. Shall not war overtake them in Gibeah? I will come against the wayward people to punish them; and nations shall be gathered against them when they are punished for their double iniquity. Ephraim was a trained heifer that loved to thresh, and I spared her fair neck; but I will make Ephraim break the ground; Judah must plow; Jacob must harrow for himself. Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your powerand in the multitude of your warriors,therefore the tumult of war shall rise against your people,and all your fortresses shall be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle when mothers were dashed in pieces with their children.Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness. At dawn the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Second Reading           

Acts 21:37—22:16 NRSV 

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Just as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” The tribune replied, “Do you know Greek? Then you are not the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city; I beg you, let me speak to the people.” When he had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:“Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense that I now make before you.” When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then he said:“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.“While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.’ Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus.“A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jewish people living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’ In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’”

 The Word of the Lord

Thanks be to God.

A Reflection on Todays Gospel

Jesus came down and stood among them on level ground, and they all gathered around him. This introduction is significant because it demonstrates that God always descends to come to our aid. How often have we relied upon our virtue reserves for strength only to come up short and frustrated? Let’s take a look at our New Year’s resolutions––are they still intact? Yet it is Christ who comes to us, giving us strength through his grace. We must never forget this lest we perpetuate our frustrations through constant failure. A secret to growing strong spiritually is to admit and accept our weakness and to turn to Christ, allowing him to act as God in our life. Christ knows what we are made of; he knows we possess within the depths of our soul's great desires for good, but also forces of evil that can lead us toward ruinous decisions beyond repair. Looking at our weakness, let’s exclaim with Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong!”(2 Corinthians 12:10).

 

Gospel Prayer 

Enable me, Lord, to keep my eyes always fixed upon the goal, which is you! Grant me the courage to root out attachments that keep me from loving you more and becoming the saint you have called me to be. Amen

Petition: Lord, come down to my level to lift me up. I can do all things with you who give me strength!

The Gospel Reading

Luke 6:12-26 NRSV

A Reading from the Gospel According to Luke.

During those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor,for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now,for you will be filled.“Blessed are you who weep now,for you will laugh.“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.“Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”

The Gospel of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

 Psalm 145 NRSV

I will exalt you, O God my King, *
and bless your Name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless you *
and praise your Name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; *
there is no end to his greatness.
One generation shall praise your works to another *
and shall declare your power.
I will ponder the glorious splendor of your majesty *
and all your marvelous works.
They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts, *
and I will tell of your greatness.
They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness; *
they shall sing of your righteous deeds.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, *
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Lord is loving to everyone *
and his compassion is over all his works.
All your works praise you, O Lord, *
and your faithful servants bless you.
They make known the glory of your kingdom *
and speak of your power;
That the peoples may know of your power *
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; *
your dominion endures throughout all ages.
The Lord is faithful in all his words *
and merciful in all his deeds.
The Lord upholds all those who fall; *
he lifts up those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, *
and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand *
and satisfy the needs of every living creature.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways *
and loving in all his works.
The Lord is near to those who call upon him, *
to all who call upon him faithfully.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; *
he hears their cry and helps them.
The Lord preserves all those who love him, *
but he destroys all the wicked.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; *
let all flesh bless his holy Name for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

DAILY SCRIPTURE

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