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

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Clarity and Prayer

The Feast of St. Matthew
Daily Readings
Sirach 17 + II Kings 4 + II Chronicles 15 + Jeremiah 38

Quote of the Day
They entered into covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and with all their soul. …. They took an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with horns. All Judah rejoiced over the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around.
II Chronicles 15:12, 14-15

Daily Text: II Kings 4

Clarity and Prayer
Four miracle stories are here: one of the two Hebrew children redeemed from slavery by the fount of oil, that of the Shunammite woman, a third, of the pot of death made wholesome and finally, a precedent for the feeding of the 5000. The tale of the Shunammite woman is a mirror image of that of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. That widow provides Elijah with food and lodging and he brought her dead son to life again [I Kings 17]. Elisha receives board and room from the Shunammite woman and in turn prays for her a son who subsequently is born, thrives, dies and lives again.

The model of this woman is instructive. She wants the presence of the man of God and honors him with food and lodging. She asks nothing for herself and when promised a son is thankful, grateful, responsible, but not in debt to Elijah or to Elijah’s God. With the son’s death she is not at all accepting. When it comes to this boy all of her patient, accepting qualities melt away and she becomes aggressive, focussed, intent on Elisha’s connection with God. Her words are caustic, even bitter, but her faith that he can and will do something is unshaken. Elisha responds to her request by sending his servant, Gehazi. Perhaps if the woman had had faith in Gehazi’s ministrations the boy would have been healed through him. But no, the woman requires that Elijah go to the boy. It is interesting that she has clarity about this and the prophet does not. She is not in the least interested that Elijah sends his servant. He may be the man of God, but he is human also and she understands this. To be the man of God for her requires more than the sending of his servant, and at this point in her life she wants one thing and that is the life of her son. No one other than Elijah can possibly bring that about. The original motive of her hospitality is not clear until now. With the giving of such hospitality she has a right to make demands, and make demands she does. In chapter 5 Naaman will not have this leverage, but when he follows Elijah’s instructions given by the same servant, Gehazi, he will be healed. In the end, both Elisha and God honor her demands. She has the clarity and the will; Elisha prays the prayer.

Elisha’s Chamber
Richard Wilton
“A little chamber,” built “upon the wall”—
With stool and table, candlestick and bed—
Where he might sit, or kneel, or lay his head
At night or sultry noontide: this was all
A prophet’s need: but in that chamber small
What mighty prayers arose, what grace was shed,
What gifts were given—potent to wake the dead
And from its viewless flight a soul recall.

And still what miracles of grace are wrought
In many a lowly chamber with shut door,
Where God our Father is in secret sought,
And shows Himself in mercy more and more;
Dim upper rooms with God’s own glory shine,
And souls are lifted to the life Divine.
411:257

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