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

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The King They Need is God

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 10 + Judges 19:1-20:7 + Tobit 8 + Mark 9

Quote of the Day
Blessed are you because you have made me glad.
It has not turned out as I expected,
but you have dealt with us according to your great mercy. Tobit 8:16

Daily Text: Judges 19:1-4, 20-30
In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite, residing in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2But his concubine became angry with him, and she went away from him to her father's house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months. 3Then her husband set out after her, to speak tenderly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple of donkeys. When he reached her father's house, the girl's father saw him and came with joy to meet him. 4His father-in-law, the girl's father, made him stay, and he remained with him three days; so they ate and drank, and he stayed there. 20The old man said, "Peace be to you. I will care for all your wants; only do not spend the night in the square." 21So he brought him into his house, and fed the donkeys; they washed their feet, and ate and drank.
22 While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, a perverse lot, surrounded the house, and started pounding on the door. They said to the old man, the master of the house, "Bring out the man who came into your house, so that we may have intercourse with him." 23And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Since this man is my guest, do not do this vile thing. 24Here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do whatever you want to them; but against this man do not do such a vile thing." 25But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine, and put her out to them. They wantonly raped her, and abused her all through the night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26As morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, until it was light. 27In the morning her master got up, opened the doors of the house, and when he went out to go on his way, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28"Get up," he said to her, "we are going." But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey; and the man set out for his home. 29When he had entered his house, he took a knife, and grasping his concubine he cut her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30Then he commanded the men whom he sent, saying, "Thus shall you say to all the Israelites, 'Has such a thing ever happened since the day that the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until this day? Consider it, take counsel, and speak out.'"

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

The King they Need is God
Continuing the downward spiral of wickedness in the book of Judges we come to Gibeah. Most of the wickedness that we seen in this book has been related to other nations, but beginning with Abimelech and continuing with the Danites we see Israel becoming like those whom God hates—idol worshippers, those who do not follow the LORD, God of Israel, and those who do not follow the commandments given at Sinai. Beginning with this chapter, the authors and editors dwell only on the wickedness of Israelites and Israel.

The horror of Sodom is replayed in this chapter, both the lack of hospitality and the desire on the part of the men of the city to sexually ravage a visitor to the city. As in Sodom the host offers the men two women to satisfy their lusts and the mob fever. Here, as in Sodom, they refuse. But suddenly, the Levite, our central character, violently shoves his own concubine out to the men and then goes in to bed. He wakes in the morning and finds his concubine dead on the doorstep having crawled there to die after being sexually mauled all night by the mob. The horror of this for us is nothing to what it must have been for this woman of Israel! It is so foreign to our consciousness that it is probably impossible to sort out what actually happened here. The culture was so different, the expectations so foreign. For some reason hospitality was given to the men, and it could be sacrificed for women if it protected the men! This reduces the status of women to that of chattel slavery. The Levite is so angry when he arises and discovers his concubine dead, that he packs her on his donkey, takes her home, cuts her up and sends the pieces to the tribes of Israel as a provocation to revenge his loss with the Benjamites who had caused her death. His own callousness is enough to stop our blood cold. Presumably he cared not at all what she went through, since he gave her to the men in the first place, and slept the night through. So it is her death, her inhospitable death that fires his outrage. In the resultant assembly at Mizpah, nobody seems upset by the Levite’s behavior, though to be frank he does not tell all of his own part in this matter.

It is indeed a sorry day in Israel. They need a king; the king they need is God; the king they seek eventually is not God.

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

from The Present Crisis
James Russell Lowell

Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-struggle in the darkness ‘twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,--
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

(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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