Readings for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany

Jeremiah 17:5-8; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:17-26

“Keep your eyes on the greater prize.” So we might summarize Jesus’ message to those embarking on a life of discipleship. To be sure, poverty, hunger, sorrow and mistreatment aren’t good things any more than wealth, a full stomach, laughter, and popularity are evil. Jesus is setting expectations. Follow him, and for a little while you will suffer for it. But great is your reward in the age to come. Seek happiness elsewhere, and for a little while you may enjoy yourself. But that path leads to death. Follow the Life-giver (Lk 6).

The old testament reading pronounces a similar blessing and curse – within the context of a 6th century B.C. geopolitical fight. Egypt and Babylon battled for control of the middle east while Judah was caught in the middle, not sure whose side they should be on. Those who staked their hopes on human alliances were headed for destruction, while those who looked to the LORD would be vindicated (Jr 17).

In the epistle reading, Paul corrects a false belief among some in Corinth that God would not raise the dead on the last day. Belief in our own resurrection is founded upon our belief that Christ rose from the dead on Easter morning. This final victory over sin and death is the central hope of Christianity (1Cr 15).