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

Friday, June 03, 2005

State of the Nation

Daily Readings
Psalm 80 + Joshua 23 + Hosea 2 + I Timothy 2

Quote of the Day
And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD. Hosea 2:19, 20

Daily Text: Joshua 23:1-3, 6, 11, 14-16
A long time afterward, when the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their enemies all around, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, 2Joshua summoned all Israel, their elders and heads, their judges and officers, and said to them, "I am now old and well advanced in years; 3and you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the LORD your God who has fought for you. 6Therefore be very steadfast to observe and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right nor to the left,
11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God. 14"And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one thing has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you; all have come to pass for you, not one of them has failed. 15But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the bad things, until he has destroyed you from this good land that the LORD your God has given you. 16If you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he enjoined on you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land that he has given to you."

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

State of the Nation
Joshua addresses the theological state of the nation in this section. It is thought that the theology here is a summary of all that the Deuteronomist, that late compiler of the Joshua texts, believed. God has fulfilled all of his promises. The people have inherited their promised land, they have rest from their enemies and they have the ability with God to rule over any that remain. The key is to love and obey God. That is the crux of their task. It is so hopeful.

But with this hopeful message comes the threat of curse. Fail to love and obey and the hammer falls. They will not be able to conquer enemies, they will not keep their land, and God will abandon them to their own choices. This curse passage functions like a prophecy of the future history of this people, although one’s sense of it is that it was simply the negative casting of the positive message. Love and obey and all will be well; forget and disobey and you will rue the day. They certainly did. But the simplicity of
this message could not fail to be understood by the exiles. Like a child who tests his limits, the people of Israel did also, and they discovered that the limits were real. Knowing this the generation of the exiles see clearly once again, as clearly as did the people in Joshua 22 who remembered with the consequences of the sin of Achan.

In our own time, those who remember Viet Nam were not ready for an adventure in Iraq, but a generation of young voters simply do not have the memory. “Never again” in the minds of the generation who knew the duplicity of our leaders in Viet Nam was simply absent in the experience of young voters in the 21st century.

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

The Stone
Henry Vaughan

I have it now:
But where to act, that none shall know,
Where I shall have no cause to fear
An eye or ear,
What man will show?
If nights, and shades, and secret rooms,
Silent as tombs,
Will nor conceal nor assent to
My dark designs, what shall I do?
Man I can bribe, and woman will
Consent to any gainful ill,
But these dumb creatures are so true,
No gold nor gifts can them subdue.
‘Hedges have ears,’ said the old sooth,
‘And every bush is something’s booth;’
This cautious fools mistake, and fear
Nothing but man, when ambushed there.

But I (Alas!)
Was shown one day in a strange glass
That busy commerce kept between
God and his creatures, though unseen.

They hear, see, speak,
And into loud discoveries break,
As loud as blood. Not that God needs
Intelligence, whose spirit feeds
All things with life, before whose eyes,
Hell and all hearts stark naked lies.
But *he that judgeth as he hears,
He that accuseth none, so steers
His righteous course, that though he knows
All that man doth, conceals or shows,
Yet will not he by his own light
(Though both all-seeing and all right,)
Condemn men; but will try them by
A process, which even man’s own eye
Must needs acknowledge to be just.

Hence sand and dust
Are shaked for witnesses, and stones
Which some think dead, shall all at once
With one attesting voice detect
Those secret sins we least suspect.
For know, wild men, that when you err
Each thing turns scribe and register,
And in obedience to his LORD,
Doth your most private sins record.

The Law delivered to the Jews,
Who promised much, but did refuse
Performance, will for that same deed
Against them by a stone** proceed;
Whose substance, though ‘tis hard enough,
Will prove their hearts more stiff and tough.
But now, since God on himself took
What all mankind could never brook,
If any (for he all invites)
His easy yoke rejects or slights,
The Gospel then (for ‘tis his word
And not himself*** shall judge the world)
Will by loose dust that man arraign,
As one than dust more vile and vain.
395:179
*John chap. 5 ver. 30. 45. [Vaughn’s note.]
**Joshua 24:26
***St. John, chap. 12. ver. 47, 48 [Vaughn’s note.]

(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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