Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Sa 14
"During the Palestine campaign in World War I, the Allies were
at the same spot where these events [of 1Sa 14] occurred. One recalled that this
was referred to in Scripture, a Bible was obtained, and the experiences of
Jonathan and his armorbearer proved profitable to the advancing Allies" (Islip
Collyer, "Where It Happened" 101).
Reading 2 - Isa 58:6,7
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the
chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to
provide the poor wanderer with shelter -- when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" (Isa 58:6,7).
"What if we shut up the bowels of our compassion towards those
who suffer? What if with plenty in our hands, we think only of our own need, and
our own comfort, and our schemes are shaped and burdened only and continually
with our own cares and our own interests? What if we never help the heavy
burdens under which so many around us are staggering to the grave? What if we
practice a habit of absolute indifference to the yokes, and the oppressions and
difficulties which are crushing to the earth our neighbours on every hand? Is it
not obvious that in that case, we are in the exact position of Israel,
'delighting in Yahweh's ways' after a fashion, but to no profit, because He
takes no pleasure in us?" (Robert Roberts, "Seasons of Comfort" 27).
Reading 3 - Mat 1:20
"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to
take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy
Spirit' " (Mat 1:20).
Both Mary and Joseph are asked by God to accept the disgrace
and shame of a couple who have "sinned". Joseph is told to name the child (Mat
1:21), an act which would be interpreted by all as an admission of paternity.
(This would also be equivalent to an admission that he had lied in previously
asserting his innocence) In the eyes of the people, then, either Joseph was a
weak man who could not control his passions, or, worse yet, a fool duped into
raising another man's son. (Because of Mary's three-month sojourn in Judah, the
tongue-waggers could make a strong argument for the latter view.) Such matters
would not be soon forgotten in a close-knit country village.
God could have made it easier. He could have smoothed the way,
but He did not. Mary must now gather her belongings and go quietly to the house
of Joseph. She would go with relief, certainly, that her beloved no longer
doubted her, and that he was one with her in understanding the marvelous
revelation of God. But she would go also under the disdainful eyes of her
friends and relatives, and perhaps the sorrow of her parents, which she could do
nothing to alleviate. For Mary and Joseph there would be no happy wedding,
bridesmaids, feasts, laughing children, gifts or good wishes. The cloud of
suspicion was made worse because there could be neither repentance nor
explanation, only passive endurance (see 1Pe 2:20,21).
God saw to it that His own Son was provided with sterling
examples of such traits in his childhood. Jesus was "called" to follow the
pattern of meek suffering in well-doing that Mary and Joseph set for him. The
grace under pressure which they showed during an extended trial was the object
of his keen discernment. He could not fail, as he grew up, to hear the whispers
and the innuendoes (cp later incidents: ie John 8:1-11); but from his parents,
never a complaint. These lessons were taken to heart, and given the perfect
reinterpretation in his own life.