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

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Loved by God

Daily Readings
Psalm 56 + Numbers 3 + Leviticus 23 + Matthew 12

Verse for the Day
You have noted my lamentation; put my tears into your bottle; are they not recorded in your book? Psalm 56:8

Daily Text Numbers 3:5-13
5Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 6Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, so that they may assist him. 7They shall perform duties for him and for the whole congregation in front of the tent of meeting, doing service at the tabernacle; 8they shall be in charge of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and attend to the duties for the Israelites as they do service at the tabernacle. 9You shall give the Levites to Aaron and his descendants; they are unreservedly given to him from among the Israelites. 10But you shall make a register of Aaron and his descendants; it is they who shall attend to the priesthood, and any outsider who comes near shall be put to death. 11Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 12I hereby accept the Levites from among the Israelites as substitutes for all the firstborn that open the womb among the Israelites. The Levites shall be mine, 13for all the firstborn are mine; when I killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both human and animal; they shall be mine. I am the LORD.

Loved by God
Aaron is mentioned before Moses in the beginning of this chapter, for the Aaronide priesthood is being discussed and while both Aaron and Moses are members of the tribe of Levi, the family of Kohath, in fact, it is Aaron who is High Priest. The Levites are organized into three families to be bearers and caretakers of the tabernacle. Aaron’s family continues to be the priestly family, but the whole tribe participates. In the census the firstborn are counted if they are a month old, for they are devoted to the Lord’s service from one month onward, even though they do not begin their service until they are 25 or 30 years of age.

When God passed over Egypt on that fateful night of their exodus he required the firstborn of every family, human and other animal. The Israelite slaves were spared the death of their firstborn, but not spared their devotion to God. That is, God claimed all firstborn dead or alive. Here this theme is picked up once again, and God accepts substitution for the firstborn of Israel. A Levite male may be substituted for an Israelite firstborn male, one for one, for the Levites were all considered to be in God’s service. The census of the Levites found 273 fewer Levite males than Israelite firstborn! What to do? A payment of a few shekels per head and the accounts were squared. ‘Numbers ‘ indeed. There is a beauty and an economy in the scrupulous accounting given here that suggests that God cares for each one. It is like the tears collected in God’s bottle in Psalm 56:8. Not only is suffering a sort of capital investment in God, every life is accounted for in God. This is reiterated in the New Testament in Matthew’s recording of the Sermon on the Mount, chapter five. Love is here personified in strict accounting. How many ways there are catch a glimpse of the carefulness of God for his creation!

The Loom of Time
Author unknown

Man’s life is laid in the loom of time
To a pattern he does not see,
While the weavers work and the shuttles fly
Till the dawn of eternity.

Some shuttles are filled with silver threads
And some with threads of gold,
While often but the darker hues
Are all they they may hold.

But the weaver watches with skillful eye
Each shuttle fly to and fro,
And sees the pattern so deftly wrought
As the loom moves sure and slow.

God surely planned the pattern:
Each thread, the dark and fair,
Is chosen by His master skill
And placed in the web with care.

He only knows its beauty,
And guides the shuttles which hold
The threads so unattractive,
As well as the threads of gold.

Not till each loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God reveal the pattern
And explain the reason why

The dark threads were as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
For the pattern which He planned.


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