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

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Unpardonable Sin

Daily Readings
Psalm 92 + I Samuel 3:1-4:1a + Tobit 13 + Mark 13

Quote of the Day
A bright light will shine to all the ends of the earth; many nations will come to you from far away, the inhabitants of the remotest parts of the earth to your holy name, bearing gifts in their hands for the King of heaven. Generation after generation will give joyful praise in you, the name of the chosen city will endure forever. Tobit 13:11

Daily Text: I Samuel 3:1-4, 10-14, 19-21
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4Then the LORD called, "Samuel! Samuel!" and he said, "Here I am!" 10Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever."
19 As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD. 21The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

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

Unpardonable Sin
The imagery in this chapter is striking. It has to do with vision. Eli, perhaps an image of Israel, has grown old, lost his sight, his ability to listen and hear and lost his way, as well. Therefore the word of the LORD was rare and visions were just as rare. Samuel comes in, young, faithful willing to listen and to see and the word of the LORD is heard again in the land. This is not simply a matter of aging, but spiritual receptivity. Even the emphasis on sleeping quarters carrys out this image. Eli sleeps in his nearby room, but not in the Most Holy Place. Samuel sleeps in the Most Holy Place, just off from the sanctuary and the Ark of the Covenant. In that room is the altar of incense, table of shewbread and the menorah or lamp of God that burns all night. God comes to Samuel in a vision. Presumably it has both visual and auditory components. We often ignore the message of the vision in our interest in the call of Samuel, but all of the description is supplied by an editor. The message from the LORD is the critical element. And that message is negative. Eli’s house, the house Aaron, brother to Moses, is on its way out. There will be no forgiveness for the acts of Hophni and Phineas—their sins are unpardonable. And, Eli, righteous though he may be, has not exercised authority over his own house and is held responsible.

The mirrored side of this message is the positive one that Samuel has become the new priest, prophet and indeed ruler in Israel. In one verse, 19, Samuel ‘grew up,’ and became an oracle for God to all Israel from Dan to Beersheba, North to South. While the other judges are said to have served Israel, this may be the first time, the only time that all of Israel is explicitly included. God is doing a new thing in Israel.

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

Eli and Samuel
Edward Everett Hale
1822-1909

The open vision ceases from the land,
God’s word becomes more rare, and
yet more rare;
Eli, thine eyes wax dim! Although thou stand
In God’s own house, thou dost not see
him there!
He speaks! list, Eli, to the precious word!
Alas, that word is not for such as thee;
Thy sealèd ears no voice of God have heard,--
Thy sluggard eyes no open vision see.
Wherefore should not the lamp of God burn out?
The seer of God is blind, and nothing sees!
Who shall light Israel through her
clouds of doubt?
Whom shall God call upon in nights like these?
The priest dreams still of earth. Lo!
God has smiled,
And called on one like heaven,--a ministering child.
411:158

(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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