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

Monday, June 20, 2005

By the Hair of His Head

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 7 + Judges 16 + Tobit 5:1-6:1a + Mark 6

Quote of the Day
See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes. Ecclesiastes 7:29

Daily Text: Judges 16:17-22
17So he told her his whole secret, and said to her, "A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If my head were shaved, then my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be like anyone else."
18 When Delilah realized that he had told her his whole secret, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, "This time come up, for he has told his whole secret to me." Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands. 19She let him fall asleep on her lap; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. He began to weaken, and his strength left him. 20Then she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" When he awoke from his sleep, he thought, "I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him. 21So the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles; and he ground at the mill in the prison.
22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

By The Hair of His Head
“God, when he gave me strength, to show withal
How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair.”
from Samson Agonistes by John Milton, 409:394

Amazing how Samson identified his vow with his hair. Perhaps, this was because it was the only part of the vow he kept. As he broke another part of it with a woman, he succumbed to one who had three times proved her untrustworthiness; Taken by his enemies and having his eyes gouged out, he slaved in a mill. Samson, the one who was the very image of the freedman and the freeing Moses, became a virtual slave.

“Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Buried, yet not exempt
By privilege of death and burial
From worst of other evils, pains, and wrongs,
But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity among inhuman foes.”
from Samson Agonistes by John Milton, 409:395

I say virtual slave, for as his hair grew so did his perception of the returning spirit of the LORD. Even though a slave, he was not bound by the slave's accompanying mental condition. He could imagine and pray outside the box. He continued, even at the expense of his life, to imagine the work of God to which he was called. That may have been the killing of Philistines, but then that seemed requisite in the continued freedom of Israel.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

from Samson Agonistes
John Milton

Oh! wherefore was my birth from heav’n foretold
Twice by an angel, who at last in sight
Of both my parents all in flames ascended
From off the altar, where an off’ring burn’d,
As in a fiery column charioting
His god-like presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal’d to Abraham’s race?
Why was my breeding order’d and prescribed
As of a person separate to God,
Design’d for great exploits, if I must die
Betray’d, captived, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze,
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this heav’n-gifted strength? O glorious strength
Put to the labor of a beast, debased
Lower than bondslave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.


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