First Reading

Numbers 23:11-26 ESV

A Reading from the Book of Numbers.

Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!”

He answered, “Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”

Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will not see them all but only the outskirts of their camp. And from there, curse them for me.” So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there.”

The Lord met with Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the Moabite officials. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”

Then he spoke his message:

“Arise, Balak, and listen;
    hear me, son of Zippor.
God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?
I have received a command to bless;
    he has blessed, and I cannot change it.
“No misfortune is seen in Jacob,
    no misery observed in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them;
    the shout of the King is among them.
God brought them out of Egypt;
    they have the strength of a wild ox.
There is no divination against Jacob,
    no evil omens against Israel.
It will now be said of Jacob
    and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’
The people rise like a lioness;
    they rouse themselves like a lion
that does not rest till it devours its prey
    and drinks the blood of its victims.”
Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!”

Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the Lord says?”

 

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Second Reading               

Romans 8:1-11 ESV

A Reading from Saint Paul's letter to the Romans.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

 The Word of the Lord

Thanks be to God.

 Psalm 53 ESV

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;
    there is none who does good.
God looks down from heaven
    on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
    who seek after God.
They have all fallen away;
    together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
    not even one.
Have those who work evil no knowledge,
    who eat up my people as they eat bread,
    and do not call upon God?
There they are, in great terror,
    where there is no terror!
For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you;
    you put them to shame, for God has rejected them.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When God restores the fortunes of his people,
    let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

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

The Third Reading

Matthew 22:1-14 ESV

A Reading from the Gospel According to Matthew.

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The Gospel of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

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A Reflection on Todays Gospel

The king sent invitations to many people, but the response was not what he had hoped for. They rejected his generosity, preferring their own less-than-stellar lives (one went off to his farm, another to attend to some business) over accepting the invitation and participating in the king’s rejoicing. Of course, none of them really deserved to be invited: They hadn’t made themselves worthy by some merit of their own. The king invited them out of his generosity. What made them truly unworthy was their lack of response to this generosity. Their “worthiness” was a gift given to them freely, and it was lost only when they refused the gift. We might ask ourselves, “Am I worthy of heaven?” If we are honest, we realize that the answer is “No.” But in Christ’s eyes, that’s not the important question. The real question is, “Am I responding to and accepting the gifts he has already extended to me?”

 Lord Jesus, the gift of heaven you have gained for me is beyond any merit of my own, but it shows me how great your generosity is. How can I not but thank you? How can I not but strive each day to respond to and accept with joyful humility all the graces you want to give me, even when it is most difficult for me?

Resolution: To respond to God’s love today, I will accept willingly any difficulty or hardship that comes my way.