Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Gen 5
Genesis 5 is like a walk through the cemetery, as the record
of the gravestones testify to the condemnation because of sin. It is valuable to
color in every reference to "and he died." All the generations were affected by
the law of sin and death. So with monotonous regularity this statement, "and he
died", is made, emphasizing the hopelessness of the human race in spite of the
long lives lived. Inevitably the end awaits even Methuselah. This is the theme
song of Life -- the only significant exception being Enoch -- a wonderful
reminder that the sting of death can be defeated.
Reading 2 - Psa 7:14
"He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives
birth to disillusionment" (Psa 7:14).
The language of child-bearing in connection with lust and sin
is echoed by James:
"When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For
God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted
when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire
has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives
birth to death" (Jam 1:13-15).
So wicked men and women bring forth "children" after their own
"likeness" (Gal 5:19-21; Rom 1:29-31; 1Co 6:9,10), and are thus known by their
"fruits" (Mat 7:16,20). The melancholy litany of birth, procreation, and death
in Gen 5 ("and then he died") is the result of Adam's "likeness" being distorted
in his descendants into the likeness of the serpent.
Reading 3 - Mat 5
"The teaching and precepts of Jesus expressed in the clear
symmetry of the Sermon on the Mount are not abstract ideals, as beautiful as
mountain peaks and as remote, to be preserved and worshipped in devotional hours
and ignored in the hurly-burly of daily living. They form a working philosophy
of life which is the only road a disciple can tread. A steep and difficult road
truly, but one which Jesus himself was treading. Nor did he demand that his
disciples should tread it alone. He reached out his hand and led them towards
its summit" (Melva Purkis, "Life of Jesus" 129).