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.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Monday, June 27, 2005

Grace:Embraced or Despised

Daily Readings
Psalm 91 + I Samuel 2 + Tobit 12 + Mark 12

Quote of the Day
Therefore the LORD the God of Israel declares: ‘I have promised that your family and the family of your ancestor should go in and out before me forever’; but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt.” I Samuel 2:30

Daily Text: I Samuel 2:1, 11-12, 18-19, 30
Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.
11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, while the boy remained to minister to the LORD, in the presence of the priest Eli. 12Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD 18Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 30Therefore the LORD the God of Israel declares: 'I promised that your family and the family of your ancestor should go in and out before me forever'; but now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt.

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

Grace:Embraced or Despised
Samuel is perhaps three years old when left with Eli, the priest, at Shiloh. (We know from II Maccabees 7:27 that at least some Hebrew mothers nursed this long.) The image is an adorable one. He wears a little linen robe with an ephod or holy apron—the garments of priests. It appears that even as a very little chap he served a priestly function. Interesting this image of responsible childhood.

Compare that to the irresponsible priesthood of Phineas and Hophni, sons of Eli. They literally ran rampant, sexually accosting the women who maintain the temple access, taking sacrifices before they are even properly offered and threatening with violence those who would restrain them. Their father in a very direct manner chastises them. Often portrayed as weak, his words used today would be considered strong, perhaps even reckless. He literally suggests that they are committing unpardonable sins (2:25), however, he had no influence over them.

Samuel on the other hand is growing in stature and favor with God and man and Eli has much good influence over him, which we will see in chapter three. The upshot of all of this is that God withdraws his favor from Eli’s line, suggesting that another will take his place. In verse 30 we see again the position that God respects the choices of humans created in his image. If they follow him he embraces them; if they reject him he honors their choice. So different from the meaningless universalism taught by so many today. Erasmus says it clearly in some advice written to the sixteen-year-old Charles of Burgundy, the future Emperor Charles V.:
“…do not think that Christ is found in ceremonies, in doctrines kept after a fashion, and in constitutions of the church. Who is truly a Christian? Not
he who is baptized or anointed or who attends church. It is rather the man
who has embraced Christ in the innermost feelings of his heart, and who
emulates Him by his pious deeds….
“You, too, must take up your cross, or else Christ will have none of
you. ‘What,’ you ask, ‘is my cross?’ I will tell you: Follow the right, do violence to no one, plunder no one, sell no public office, be corrupted by
no bribes’” [429:43].
The essence is right here in I Samuel, chapter 2, verse 30. The examples are Hophni, Phineas and Samuel.

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

Samuel’s Prayer
John Keble

With joy the guardian Angel sees
A duteous child upon his knees,
And writes in his approving book
Each upward, earnest, holy look.

Light from his pure aërial dream
He springs to meet morn’s orient beam,
And pours towards the kindling skies
His clear adoring melodies.

Some glorious seraph, waiting by,
Receives the prayer to waft on high,
And wonders, as he soars, to read
More than we know, and all we need.

More than we know, and all we need,
Is in young children’s prayer and creed.
They, for their home, before Him fall,
He, for his church, receives their call.

They cry with simple voice and clear,
“Bless Father, Mother, Brethren dear.”
He for the priests of his dread Son
Accounts the blessing asked and won.

For holy priests and matrons mild,
For penitents and undefiled,
For dying saints, for babes new-born,
He takes their offering, eve and morn.

He gives the frail and feeble tongue
A doom to speak on sin and wrong;
Unconscious they stern lightnings aim,
When His ten Precepts they proclaim.

Thus in the tabernacle shade
At morn and eve young Samuel prayed,
Nor knew God’s ark should win,
Forfeit by priest’s and people’s sin.

To Eli thus dread words he spake:--
Ye hearts profane, with penance ache;--
A wondrous peal o’er Israel rung,
Heaven’s thunder from a child’s meek tongue.
395:193

(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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