In the Lectionary

June 18, 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exodus 19:2–8a; Psalm 100; Romans 5:1–8; Matthew 9:35–10:8

This week’s readings are bound together by the theme of journey. Exodus is explicit: “They had journeyed . . . entered . . . and camped.” So is Matthew: Jesus “went about all the cities and villages”; later he “sent out” the Twelve. Psalm 100 exhorts us to “come into his presence” and “enter his gates . . . and his courts.” Romans, on the other hand, sounds immobile when it emphasizes “this grace in which we stand.” But Paul immediately takes us on a journey from suffering through endurance and then character, all the way to hope.

This week’s journey is not a journey away from divine identity, however, as if Trinity Sunday were clearly fixed in our rearview mirror. For Paul the terminus of the journey is hope precisely because “God’s love has been poured . . . through the Holy Spirit . . . [because] Christ died.” (Alliterate this doctrinally as God’s agape, Christ’s atonement, and the Spirit’s actualization.) For Matthew, the apostolic mission will provoke controversy because of Jesus, culminating in “the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Exodus is explicitly a journey to the Lord, who self-identifies as the One who “bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” And the psalm draws worshipers into the presence of the Lord, who is loving, faithful, and good.

That our journey ends in God is a point worth emphasizing in a culture filled with apps for traveling to self-chosen destinations. God has chosen not only to go with us, bearing us along, but also to be our very goal. Consider how this final verse in Exodus could be described as Israel’s handing an open itinerary ticket over to God. Given the mobility of this God, when the people say, “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do,” they are pledging to have no other destinations than God.