Septuagesima Sunday

February 5, 2023

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Just as a reminder:

Septuagesima (/ˌsɛptjuəˈdʒɛsɪmə/; in full, Septuagesima Sunday) is the name for the ninth Sunday before Easter, the third before Ash Wednesday. The term is sometimes applied to the seventy days starting on Septuagesima Sunday and ending on the Saturday after Easter. Alternatively, the term is sometimes applied also to the period commonly called Shrovetide or Gesimatide (the Pre-Lenten Season) that begins on this day and ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins.

The other two Sundays in this period of the liturgical year are called Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, the latter sometimes also called Shrove Sunday. The earliest date on which Septuagesima Sunday can occur is January 18 (Easter falling on March 22 in a common year) and the latest is February 22 (Easter falling on April 25 in a leap year). ( I strongly suggest reading the entire Wiki page – fascinating information there. Of course, all this is preparation for Lent, which begins February 22nd.

Of the two readings suggested for this day (2Timothy 2:1-13 and Matt 5:1-16), I chose the Matthew because I think it’s a good thing to re-read the Beatitudes. A little housekeeping first, though – verse 8 looks like it has a special emphasis; it’s simply ‘operator error’ that I don’t know how to correct. Each of the verses highlighted were spoken by Jesus and have equal importance, one to the other.

The Bible is a living thing and we know this because every time we read it, it gives us something new and fresh to think about. The Book doesn’t change but we do. In this reading this morning, I’m taken with verse 16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

It doesn’t mean we should spread around the good things we may do – those things we should do privately and without fanfare. What it does mean is that we should behave in such ways as causes other people to praise (glorify) God for the work that was done. The work done – not the person who did the work. This can be difficult – all humans have an ego and it likes to get fed. Our jobs as Christians is to keep ourselves under our bodies: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:27) Our egos are part of our bodies and we need to keep it under our bodies – to bring it under subjection, control it.

I’ve always maintained that the easiest thing to be is a Christian. And the hardest thing to be is a Christian. Verse 16 is an excellent example.

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