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

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Good Intentions

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 8 + Judges 17 + Tobit 6:1b-18 + Mark 7

Quote of the Day
Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the human heart is fully set to do evil. Though sinners do evil a hundred times and prolong their lives, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they stand in fear before him, but it will not be well with the wicked, neither will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not stand in fear before God. Ecclesiastes 8:11-13

Daily Text: Judges 17:1-2, 5-6, 13
There was a man in the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2He said to his mother, ‘The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and even spoke it in my hearing—that silver is in my possession; I took it; but now I will return it to you.’* And his mother said, ‘May my son be blessed by the LORD!’ 5This man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons, who became his priest. 6In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes. 13Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.’

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

Good Intentions
Chapter 17 is a collection of materials about one Micah and a Levite, perhaps named Jonathan (cf. 18:30). The materials are not all from the same source. 17:1-4 tell of one Micahu who like the Prodigal Son takes his inheritance from his mother before her death. When she discovers the ‘theft,’ Micahu confesses, and she like the father of the Prodigal forgives him and blesses him! However, unlike the father of the Prodigal, this mother practices a flawed worship of the LORD, the God of Israel and with 200 pieces of silver she has a molten idol cast.

17:5,6 are a transitional passage to introduce Jonathan the Levite. In these verses, and for the rest of the chapter Micah’s name is shortened. Presumably the editor determined not to bring the second Micah story into conformance, but used the extant materials as they were. The editor is obviously saying in verse 6—look at how degraded the worship of the LORD is during this time in Israel’s history!

It is easy to be critical of the idols, since we know that the first and second commandment prohibited such practices. On the other hand, by the time of Josiah in the 7th century, and this may well fit into that pattern, the knowledge of the commandments had been largely lost and even well-meaning folk were guilty of transgression. It is my assumption that Micah’s confident assertion of future blessing in verse 13, because he was doing things right, was innocently come by. That is, he was following a practice widely modelled by his mother, by the Levites of the time and probably by much of the Israelite population. It was part of the price of living in a heterogeneous religious culture--a culture the LORD had warned them against many times in centuries past. Lest we judge too quickly, we need only look at the Christian church today to see how far we have innovated in line with our culture and out of step with Holy Scripture. Still, good intentions will not stay judgement. They were no more ready for the accusations of a prophet than we are.

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

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The mills of the gods grind late, but they grind fine. Greek poet

Though the mills of God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience he stands waiting,
With exactness grinds he all.

(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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