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

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Transitional Leadership

Daily Readings
Psalm 82 + Judges 1:1-2:5 + Hosea 4 + I Timothy 4

Quote of the Day
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer. I Timothy 4:4,5

Daily Text: Judges 1:1, 2:1-5
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the LORD, "Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?"

Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, "I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you into the land that I had promised to your ancestors. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you. 2For your part, do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my command. See what you have done! 3So now I say, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become adversaries to you, and their gods shall be a snare to you." 4When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the Israelites, the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5So they named that place Bochim, and there they sacrificed to the LORD.

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

Transitional Leadership
Chapter one through verse five of chapter two is an historical rendering of some of the settling experience of each of the Cisjordan tribes save that of Issachar. The picture created in Judges of one of the tribes settling their own inheritance city by city, town by town, with little change in the settlement patterns of the existing peoples is quite different from the overall view given in Joshua. There the idea is floated that Joshua pacified the land and then distributed it. In Judges a history, confirmed by archaeology, of a slow, limited settling is given. God is with them, yes, but this is the generation after the one that knew Joshua and they have forgotten the compelling nature of the covenant made with YHWH. They do not drive out the existing peoples either because they do not or because they cannot. The theological message is that they have forgotten YHWH.

Chapter one is preface to the real beginning of the book of the Judges in 2:6. It gives background, sets the stage, prepares the reader. The angel of the LORD, one might read the LORD himself, went from Gilgal to Bochim or Bethel. This may be a reference to the move of the tabernacle from Gilgal, just across the Jordan, to Bethel in the heart of the newly emerging political entity. The theology is clear. The LORD has brought the people into the land, and kept his promise, but they have failed to keep theirs and as a result God will not drive the existing peoples out, allowing them to be adversaries. The people heard this discouraging summation and wept. They knew it was so. Throughout chapter one the recital is that Judah could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants, Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites, Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants, Asher, Naphtali, Dan….The time was troubled, transitional, difficult, discouraging. Into this mix step the judges, beginning with Othniel, the son-in-law of Caleb. Ecclesiasticus memorializes them in 46:11, 12.

The judges also, with their
respective names,
whose hearts did not fall into
And who did not turn away from the LORD
may their memory be blessed!
May their bones send forth new
life from where they lie,
and may the names of those
who have been honored
live again in their children!

The equal of Joshua they are not, but they are men of their times used by God to advance the cause of their people. Such are needed in every generation, including our own.

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

Cardinal Wolsey’s Farewell
from “King Henry VIII,” Act III, sc. 2
William Shakespeare

Farewell! A long farewell, to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost;
And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured,
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride
At length broke under me, and now has left me,
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye:
I feel my heart new open’d. O! how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on prince’s favours!
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have—
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.

(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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