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

Friday, April 15, 2005

Humility

Daily Readings
Psalm 65 + Numbers 12 + Deuteronomy 5 + Matthew 21

Verse for the Day
You must follow exactly the path that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess. Deuteronomy 5:33

Daily Text Numbers 12:3-8
3Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth.
4 Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting." So the three of them came out. 5Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. 6And he said, "Hear my words: When there are prophets among you, I the LORD make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. 7Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. 8With him I speak face to face-- clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

Humility
Just what does it mean to be humble? It does not mean always taking a back seat. It does mean not arrogating to oneself the privileges and perquisites of another. Humility and meekness are often mentioned together as they have been with Moses (Exodus 3:10-13). To be humble is to have a modest opinion of oneself, though truthful, without a loss of self-respect and dignity. So to humble oneself is not to be humiliated, but modest and meek. So it was with Moses. It must not have been a family trait, for Aaron and Miriam seem not to have inherited it.

The tribute is the thing: “he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face—clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds the form of the LORD.” This tribute is about relationship, and oh, what it would mean to have such a relationship with God. The idea that Moses saw God brings us to the theme of the vision of God once again. In Deuteronomy 4:12 the word for ‘form’ is the same as it is here. In Deuteronomy the people were reminded that they heard the voice of God, but did not see his form. Here Moses, in the very words of God, sees his form. How this can be melded with the prohibition of seeing God in Exodus 33 is hard to say. Generally, the rabbis concluded that Moses saw everything but God’s face. And yet this passage in Numbers 12 says that God speaks with him face to face or mouth to mouth. The latter is a Jewish translation that for them means that Moses was directly inspired by YHWH, that is, the very breath of God was within him. It may also be that differing traditions reflected within the Torah understood the vision of God differently. However, we ‘see’ it, pun intended, Moses and God were intimates, companions.

The Blades of Grass
Stephen Crane

In Heaven,
Some little blades of grass
Stood before God.
“What did you do?”
Then all save one of the little blades
Began eagerly to relate
The merits of their lives.
This one stayed a small way behind,
Ashamed.
Presently, God said,
“And what did you do?”
The little blade answered, “Oh, my Lord,
Memory is bitter to me,
For, if I did good deeds,
I known not of them.”
Then God, in all His splendor,
Arose from His throne.
“Oh, best little blade of grass!” He said.
407:1287

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