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

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mother of Israel

Daily Readings
Psalm 86 + Judges 5 + Hosea 8 + II Timothy 2

Quote of the Day
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15

Daily Text: Judges 5:1, 4, 7, 23-24, 28, 31
Then Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:
4 ‘LORD, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the region of Edom,
the earth trembled,
and the heavens poured,
the clouds indeed poured water.
7The peasantry prospered in Israel,
they grew fat on plunder,
because you arose, Deborah,
arose as a mother in Israel.
23 ‘Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD,
curse bitterly its inhabitants,
because they did not come to the help of the LORD,
to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
24 ‘Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
28 ‘Out of the window she peered,
the mother of Sisera gazed* through the lattice:
“Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?”
31 ‘So perish all your enemies, O LORD!
But may your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might.’
And the land had rest for forty years.

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

Mother of Israel
This ancient piece of writing—Judges five—the song of Deborah, gives insight into Israel during this time of judges that we have from no other source. Deborah’s organization of the people is credited in vss. 6,7 with a growing strength among the tribes that threatened the Canaanite hegemony in the plains, and allowed even the peasantry to grow fat on plunder. Perhaps this was the reason for Sisera’s attack. Whatever its motivation, it was again Deborah’s wisdom, foresight and ability to command that allowed the tribes to be ready and to catch Sisera in a pincer movement from north and south at the flooded Wadi Kishon. Rich and poor alike (vs. 10) benefited. In beautiful couplets, the poem contrasts a victorious mother in Israel, Deborah, with the mourning mother of Sisera, a curse on Meroz contrasted with a blessing on Jael, daughter of Israel. Men were the commanders, women were the turning points, decisive, sensitive, mourning, celebrating. Deborah finally sings for the perishing of all the Lord’s enemies and the flourishing of all of his friends, vs. 31. After the singing was over, the observation of the author was that …”the land had rest forty years.”

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

Meroz
(Judges v.23)
George S. Outram
1805-1856

The sullen waters of earth’s strangest sea
Roll o’er the plain where once Gomorrah’s towers
Rose in the sunlight. Huge misshapen mounds
Attest the dignity of Babylon.
One yet may muse upon the plains of Troy:
“Here fought Achilles; here was Hector slain.”
And still the beautiful Palmyra shows
Her graceful shaft and broken colonnade.
But, of that city which people cursed
In answer to the charge of Deborah
There is no sign remaining—not a stone.
No legendary voice is heard to say:
“Here Meroz stood, the pathless city stood.”
Her very name is blotted from the map;
And none would know that Meroz ever was,
But from the song which tells us of her sin
And of her doom. She dared not take a part
In that dark day of peril and rebuke.
She feared the iron hand of Sisera
And Jabin’s bloody vengeance; and she stood
Halting and neuter in the hour of strife.
And so she fell. Her cattle drooped and died;
Her fields of corn were blasted by the wind;
Her people sickened at the Angel’s touch,
And slowly wasted into skeletons.
Houses were tenantless, and hearts were cold
And silent as the grave; no man drew near
To tender counsel, help, or sympathy.
So Meroz passed away. But not, it seems,
In one dread moment, as when Korah died;
But as the wife of Lot, a monument
Of warning for a while. In after days
Fathers would stand and point their children’s eyes
To Meroz, and her rafters, and her tombs;
And say, “My child, that place refused her help
When God and Jabin wrestled on the field.
With their houses all that day of storm
Her children tarried, watching who should win,
That she might hail the victor with her songs.
And so she perished, as each lukewarm soul
Who eyes two lords, and is to neither true,
Shall die, unpitied and abhorred by all.”
411:133

(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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