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

Sunday, April 03, 2005

No Longer in Exile

Daily Readings
Psalm 53, Exodus 40, Leviticus 20, Matthew 9

Verse for the Day
You shall be holy to me; for I the LORD am holy, and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine. Leviticus 20:26

Daily Text Exodus 40:1-2, 16-19, 34-38

The LORD spoke to Moses: 2On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.
16 Moses did everything just as the LORD had commanded him. 17In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was set up. 18Moses set up the tabernacle; he laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars; 19and he spread the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent over it; as the LORD had commanded Moses.
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on each stage of their journey; 37but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day that it was taken up. 38For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.

No Longer in Exile
It is time for the Tabernacle to be put in place. It is the first day of the month, Abib, two weeks short of the anniversary of the exodus from Egypt. Again Moses receives the divine instruction and then he carries it out. Moses carries out the fulfillment of his vision. And when he completed this the glory of the LORD filled the place as had been foretold in 25:8. It occurred again when Solomon dedicated the first temple to the LORD [I Kings 8:10-11, Cf. Numbers 9:15]. God was present with his people. “The erection of the shrine was the symbolic conclusion of the exodus tale. The latter had begun with the ‘absent’ God during the years of enslavement and now ends with the ‘present’ God who will lead His people to the Promised Land [185:688].

The pillar of cloud and the pillar fire are the climactic conclusion to the exodus event. What was formerly true of Sinai and Moses, is now true of the tabernacle and the Aaronic priesthood. That Moses suddenly can not enter the cloud may be a sign that he is no longer both priest and prophet exclusively, but shares the role of priest with Aaron and like any other priest cannot enter the cloud [408:638].

from Exodus
by Charles Reznikoff

But there came a shepherd form the desert,
speaking in the ancient tongue
all but our eldest had forgotten;
and we saw an old man—withered hands and haunches;
and he said to us, stuttering as he spoke:
I bring a message from the God of your fahers
and, in place of these burdens,
I bring you—the yoke of His law.
How pleasant it is, distinguished from the beasts,
to feed upon His law
tasting in each syllable
the radiance of our Lord!
If there is bone enough to make the tooth of a key
and enough to write two letters of the alphabet—
then fear not the rush of tramping shoes nor the sound of the shouting
and hurry out of this land!*

*The three lines near the end of the stanza are from the Mishnah (Hullin 3:3 and other places, Danby’s translation). [Charles Reznikoff’s note.]


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