Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Be Ready in the Morning

Daily Lectionary Psalm 47+Exodus 34+Leviticus 14+Matthew3

Verse for the Day

The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed,
“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love….” Exodus 34:6

Daily Text Exodus 34:6, 7
6The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’


Be Ready in the Morning
In 34:2 God prepares Moses for his upcoming encounter: be ready in the morning. Moses had asked to see the glory of God, and God had promised in 33:19 ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’ and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. God promises to continue to act with all integrity. Moses is as ready as anyone can be to move into the very presence of the living God. God descends in the cloud and stands before proclaiming his name. Here in the short space of one sentence is the most diverse revelation of the nature of God in all of scripture.
• The Lord, the Lord,the tetragrammaton, the unpronounceable name, pronounced
by God himself. The traditional interpretation is that this name discloses the
mercy of God.
• God, this is the Hebrew word ‘El’ the ruler, comparable to ‘God Most High’.
• Compassionate, rachum, the one sympathetic to suffering, a female quality, the
root word being rechem, the mother’s womb.
• Gracious, as one who is freely concerned and helpful.
• Slow to anger, the one who gives ample opportunity to repent.
• Abounding in steadfast love, rav hesed, and this beyond human deserving.
• Faithfulness, emet, truth as in goodness, truth and beauty.
• Extending steadfast love to the 1000th generation, remembering unendingly his
goal in creating human beings to be at rest with him.
• Forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, open to repentance of human evil
disposition, rebelliousness and guilt.
• By no means clearing the guilty, there are limits to God’s mercy with the
unrepentant.

Jewish scholars from Philo on attempted to formulate comprehensive principles from these descriptive words that would lend insight into God’s true nature and Abraham ibn Daud deducted seven positive attributes: God’s unity, truth, existence, omniscience, will, omnipotence, and being. [the above discussion dependent upon Plaut, The Torah, p. 663.]

All of this and more Moses encountered that morning and in the subsequent forty days on the mountain of God. When he came down his face was radiant, so much so that Aaron and the people wanted to avoid him for fear. The scriptures attest that Moses continued to meet God and his face continued to be radiant in the years to follow, so much so that he habitually wore a veil when he was not either communicating with God or relaying God’s words to the people. (I Corinthians 3 contradicts this, most likely reflecting a midrashic conclusion that somehow God’s glory faded from Moses’ face. Certainly that interpretation is not generated in the Torah.)

The Secret
by Ralph Spaulding Cushman

I met God in the morning
When my day was at its best,
And His presence came like sunrise,
Like a glory in my breast.

All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them
Brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings,
With the Presence left behind.

So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way:
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day!
407:408

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