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Proper 15

Jeremiah 23.23–9
Hebrews 11.29—12.2
Luke 12.49–56

Hebrews continues its great description of faith in today’s reading. From Moses down to the relatively recent past in the Maccabean revolts, the author of Hebrews reminds his readers of the story that they have inherited. Some of the allusions are clear, and some are harder to pinpoint, but the whole panorama is a vivid and action-packed testimony to the faith of our ancestors.

Today’s reading starts with stories of victory – Moses leading the people through the Red Sea, Joshua and his troops bringing down the walls of Jericho, and so on. There are casualties, of course, but only among the baddies. But as the passage proceeds, the outlook for believers gets bleaker. Suddenly, they are the ones who look like the losers. There is talk of torture and horrible death, of losing homes and possessions, and having to wander in the desert, living like animals and on the edge of madness. What starts as a surging, energizing list of victorious heroes for the reader to model herself on now starts to go horribly wrong...

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