Engaging the Word: Readings for 1/4/15 (Second Sunday after Christmas Day)

By Barbara Klugh

Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a; Luke 2:41-52. Go to www.lectionarypage.net to read or print the weekly lectionary text. In this week’s readings, Jeremiah has a message of hope to God’s people, Paul tells Christians that God chose us for a reason—that we should be holy and blameless in God’s sight, and we get a glimpse of how special Jesus was, even at 12 years old.

Icon of Jeremiah. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Jeremiah. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jeremiah: In this week’s reading, Jeremiah gives the people hope for future reconciliation and restoration between God and his people following the destruction of Jerusalem. The exile will be ended; the Lord will gather his people “from the farthest parts of the earth,” and a great company of people—including “the blind and the lame, those with child, and those in labor”—will return home. The Lord, the father to Israel, will keep them as a shepherd keeps his flock; the people will sing aloud as the Lord turns “their mourning into joy,” and will “give them gladness for sorrow.”

Later in this chapter (v. 31-34), Jeremiah spoke about the New Covenant, “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people….I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.” We see Jesus as the realization of this prophecy as we remember the words of the Last Supper in our Eucharistic Prayers: “This is my blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for the many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Psalm: Our psalm is known as “The Pilgrim’s Way,” and overflows with the joyful anticipation of worshiping God in the temple in Jerusalem.

Photographed by Marie-Lan Nguyen (2012). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Photographed by Marie-Lan Nguyen (2012). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Ephesians: This letter is named for the Christian community in the City of Ephesus, now in western Turkey. It was an important center of Early Christianity from the AD 50s. Some, but not all, scholars doubt that Paul was the author of the letter. I’ll leave that debate to the scholars and consider the text, which was a circular letter to a group of churches around Ephesus.

Our reading begins with a blessing: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Every spiritual blessing” had been preordained before the foundation of world and we have been destined for adoption as children of God through Jesus Christ. We Christians are chosen to be different—holy and blameless—that we may receive the full abundance of our heritage.

In the second part of our reading, Paul gives thanks to the Ephesians for their faith in Jesus and their love “toward all the saints.” Paul prays that God may give them “a spirit of wisdom” that “with the eyes of your heart enlightened,” they (and we) may fully know their heavenly calling, glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of his power.

Luke: In this week’s reading, found only in Luke’s gospel, we have the only story about an event in Jesus’ boyhood. The incident occurred when Jesus was 12 years old and he and his parents and relatives traveled to from Nazareth to Jerusalem to attend the Passover festival.On the way home, he was accidently left behind by his parents who assumed he was among the group of travelers.

Christ among the Doctors, by Giovanni Serodine (1600 - 1630). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Christ among the Doctors, by Giovanni Serodine (1600 – 1630). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

After a day’s journey, Mary and Joseph started to look for Jesus, and couldn’t find him, so they returned to Jerusalem to continue their search. “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Mary said to Jesus, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” But Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Although Jesus’ parents didn’t quite comprehend what Jesus was saying, Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.” Jesus went home with his parents and was obedient to them.

If you’ve ever lost a child, even for a few minutes, you can imagine how frantic Mary and Joseph must have been. I remember when I noticed my son Mike was not with me on Mackinac Island, I was full of fear, guilt, and panic. Fortunately, Mike was looking for me, too, and when we found each other we collapsed with tears of joy and relief right in the middle of the crowded sidewalk.

We hear no more about the life of Jesus until he began his public ministry about 18 years later. We do see, though that Jesus had begun to transfer his allegiance from his father Joseph to God. Luke says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”

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