Week of Proper 13, Year Two[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 119:97-120 (morning) // 81, 82 (evening)
Our first reading this morning includes two violent victories over captains and kings of the Midianites. After the first defeat of captains Oreb and Zeeb, the leader Gideon sets his sights on the Midianite kings Zebah and Zalmunna. As Gideon pursues these kings, he gives two groups of people a chance to be involved in the fight by offering sustenance to his battle-worn companions. However, both groups of people make it clear that they only want to invest in known winners. Gideon is sure that they’ll live to regret this.
First, Gideon crosses over the Jordan with three hundred of his tired and hungry people. He asks the Succoth people to “Please give some loaves of bread to my followers, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna.” The Succoth leaders are not hospitable, telling Gideon that they only provide support after they see results: “Do you already have in your possession the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna, that we should give bread to your army?” They’re in the business of rewarding conquerors, not of taking risks. Seeking help elsewhere, Gideon makes the same request of the people of Penuel, but they too refuse to support campaigns with uncertain outcomes.
Gideon responds ferociously that, “When I come back victorious,” both peoples will regret their choice to withhold support. Gideon warns them that he will trample on them and knock down their buildings after the victory that will surely be his, no thanks to them. And indeed, at the end of today’s reading, Gideon apprehends the kings Zebah and Zalmunna.
We may face an opportunity today to participate in a victory for God and God’s people that hasn’t yet unfolded, and that may even seem doubtful. What do we gain by holding back? Imagine facing Christ the victor, after he has won for us one more measure of justice and peace. I hope we can say that we offered his people bread, that we served the tired and the hungry, and that we long to claim the kingdom and its victories as our own.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.