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

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Civil War Averted

Daily Readings
Psalms 79 + Joshua 22 + Hosea 1 + I Timothy 1

Quote of the Day
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane…. I Timothy 1:8, 9a

Daily Text: Joshua 22:1-4, 10-12, 26-29
Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2and said to them, "You have observed all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed me in all that I have commanded you; 3you have not forsaken your kindred these many days, down to this day, but have been careful to keep the charge of the LORD your God. 4And now the LORD your God has given rest to your kindred, as he promised them; therefore turn and go to your tents in the land where your possession lies, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side of the Jordan.
10 When they came to the region near the Jordan that lies in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of great size. 11The Israelites heard that the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region near the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the Israelites. 12And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh, to make war against them. 26Therefore we said, 'Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, 27but to be a witness between us and you, and between the generations after us, that we do perform the service of the LORD in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and offerings of well-being; so that your children may never say to our children in time to come, "You have no portion in the LORD."' 28And we thought, If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we could say, 'Look at this copy of the altar of the LORD, which our ancestors made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.' 29Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn away this day from following the LORD by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle!"

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

Civil War Averted
The Transjordan tribes gave five years or more to assisting their companion tribesmen in pacifying the Promised Land. On this occasion Joshua sends them home with a blessing and his praises for their faithful support ringing in their ears. Just before crossing the Jordan river, perhaps near Gilgal they erect a huge altar as memorial to their commitment to the God of Israel. Immediately, the Israelites read that as a declaration of ending relationship with Israel and the God of Israel, and they ready themselves for war. Their fear seems to be that such an action would bring the wrath of God upon them all. They send ambassadors to have conversation with Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh and find them completely flummoxed by the misunderstanding, for they are as committed as ever to Israel and the God of Israel, though they realize that the Jordan River divides them in a major way. They are not in the Promised Land, and they fear that the next generation will not continue to understand their position as descendants of Jacob and worshippers of the one true God.

It is amazing how quickly conflict can erupt between brothers. Misunderstanding is easier than understanding, and if there had been any motivation toward war, war there would have been. In human experience that is almost always the case. Fortunately, Joshua had the wisdom to send a party to clarify intentions before war was declared. This story must have brought renewed hope to the community in exile in the fifth century, for the promise was that wherever one was willing serve God, God was willing to be their God. God was in the middle of the Transjordan community as readily as in the Cisjordan community. And the altar did stand as a witness that Yahweh truly is God.

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

Is It A Dream?
G. A. Studdert-Kennedy

Is it a dream, and nothing more—this faith
That nerves our brains to thought, our hands to work
For that great day when wars shall cease, and men
Shall live as brothers in a unity
Of love—live in a world made splendid?

Is it a dream—this faith of ours that pleads
And pulses in our hearts, and bids us look,
Through mists of tears and time, to that great day
When wars shall cease upon the earth, and men,
As brothers bound by love of man and God,
Shall build a world as gloriously fair
As sunset skies, or mountains when they catch
The farewell kiss of evening on their heights?

In our hearts this question, in our minds
The haunting echoes of the song of war;
When will the nations cure the itching palm?
Change curse of pride to love of peace?
How long before such peace can pass our lips,
Can claim our minds and drive out all distrust?
When shall our fingers dare to drop the sword,
While with unquestioning eyes we reach two hands
In open comradeship to all the world?

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So! You are suggesting S.E. as a way to "reach two hands" in "comradeship to all the world." Good idea!

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Fr. James for sharing your thoughts! The poem really touches me, particularly the "when will the nations cure the itching palm?" line today.We as a nation are greedy, and are quick to jump to the defense of our "stuff", quick to build more storage for our "stuff", quick to acquire more "stuff". My journey at this time is to improve my stewardship of things, to drop my sword and get rid of, rather than acquire, "stuff"! Blessings on you and your ministry!

12:44 PM  

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