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.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Camping on the Square

Daily Readings
Psalm 55 + Numbers 2 + Leviticus 22 + Matthew 11

Verse for the Day
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Daily Text Numbers 2:1-3,10,17,18,25,33,34

The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2The Israelites shall camp each in their respective regiments, under ensigns by their ancestral houses; they shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.
3 Those to camp on the east side toward the sunrise shall be of the regimental encampment of Judah by companies. 10On the south side shall be the regimental encampment of Reuben by companies. 17The tent of meeting, with the camp of the Levites, shall set out in the center of the camps; they shall set out just as they camp, each in position, by their regiments. 18On the west side shall be the regimental encampment of Ephraim by companies. 25On the north side shall be the regimental encampment of Dan by companies. 33Just as the LORD had commanded Moses, the Levites were not enrolled among the other Israelites. 34The Israelites did just as the LORD had commanded Moses: They camped by regiments, and they set out the same way, everyone by clans, according to ancestral houses.

Camping on the Square
Number’s two sets the tone for the march, and march it is to be, for the encampment is organized as a military force. The men with their families are divided into four military units of three tribes each. For example, Judah has the place of honor flanked by Issachar and Zebulun. They are on the East Side of the tabernacle at the entrance. Each of the four units has roughly 150,000 soldiers.

The march and the encampment are in the form of a quadrangle, with the tabernacle, and the Levites carrying and attending in the center. Two ideas are expressed in this formation. 1) That God is in the midst of his people and 2) that the focus for the army is to protect its sacred space. No matter how these people succeed or fail to live up to the gifts, blessings and expectation of Adonai, they must always be fully aware of His presence with them.

The Divine Presence
Aubrey Thomas de vere

All but unutterable Name!
Adorable, yet awful sound!
Thee can the sinful nations frame
Save with their foreheads on the ground?

Soul-searching and all-cleansing Fire;
To see Thy countenance were to die:
Yet how beyond the bound retire
Of Thy serene immensity?

Thou mov’st beside us, if the spot
We change—a noteless, wandering tribe;
The orbits of our life and thought
In Thee their little arcs describe.

In their dead calm, at cool of day,
We hear Thy voice, and turn, and flee:
Thy love outstrips us on our way!
From Thee, O God, we fly—to Thee.


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