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

Friday, June 24, 2005

Civil War Engaged

Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 11 + Judges 20:8-48 + Tobit 9 + Luke 1:57-80

Quote of the Day
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78, 79

Daily Text: Judges 20:8-9, 11-13, 24-29, 35
8All the people got up as one, saying, "We will not any of us go to our tents, nor will any of us return to our houses. 9But now this is what we will do to Gibeah: we will go up against it by lot. 11So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one.
12 The tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What crime is this that has been committed among you? 13Now then, hand over those scoundrels in Gibeah, so that we may put them to death, and purge the evil from Israel." But the Benjaminites would not listen to their kinsfolk, the Israelites. 24So the Israelites advanced against the Benjaminites the second day. 25Benjamin moved out against them from Gibeah the second day, and struck down eighteen thousand of the Israelites, all of them armed men.
26 Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went back to Bethel and wept, sitting there before the LORD; they fasted that day until evening. Then they offered burnt offerings and sacrifices of well-being before the LORD. 27And the Israelites inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, "Shall we go out once more to battle against our kinsfolk the Benjaminites, or shall we desist?" The LORD answered, "Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand." 29So Israel stationed men in ambush around Gibeah. 35The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel; and the Israelites destroyed twenty-five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin that day, all of them armed.

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

Civil War Engaged
Benjamin had no intention of being disciplined by the tribal coalition. And initially, at least they appeared to be more than competent to inflict great causalities on the far larger army of Israel. But continuing to seek God’s leading at Bethel, the coalition is reassured that they are to discipline Benjamin. They do so almost wiping out the entire tribe by mounting an ambush behind the city of Gibeah.

The impression drawn in this chapter is of a majority faithful to the God of Israel, arraigned against the unfaithful few of Benjamin. It is undoubtedly a misapprehension. There is a correction here, for in spite of the chaos, in spite of the internecine struggles, there is a sense that the people are attempting to follow Yahweh. Could it be that the motivation for the book of Judges is to create the justification for a monarch in Israel? At almost every point of chaotic struggle in this book there is the notation that ‘there was no king in Israel’ and for that reason the people did what was right in their own eyes, making the case for a strong monarchy. Judges demonstrates that a loose federation will not work. YHWH in the succeeding centuries demonstrates that a monarchy works little better in creating and keeping a people faithful to their god.

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

From Song of Myself
Walt Whitman

Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth,
(I tell not the fall of Alamo,
Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo,
The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,)
‘Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and
twelve young men.

Retreating they had form’d in a hollow square with their
baggage for breastworks,
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy’s, nine times
their number, was the price they took in advance,
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone,
They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv’d writing
and seal, gave up their arms and march’d back prisoners
of war.

They were the glory of the race of rangers,
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,
Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters,
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads
and massacred, it was beautiful early summer,
The work commenced about five o’clock and was over by
None obey’d the command to kneel,
Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and
dead lay together,
The maim’d and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers
saw them there,
Some half-kill’d attempted to crawl away,
These were despatch’d with bayonets or batter’d with the
blunts of muskets,
A youth not seventeen years old seiz’d his assassin till two
more came to release him,
The three were all torn and cover’d with the boy’s blood.

At eleven o’clock began the burning of the bodies;
That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve
young men.

(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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