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

Monday, September 05, 2005

Reciprocating Wealth

Daily Readings
Sirach 1 + I Kings 10 + I Chronicles 28 + Jeremiah 3

Quote of the Day
Am I a God near bv, says the LORD, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD. Jeremiah 23:23

Daily Text: I Kings 10

Reciprocating Wealth
The visit of the Queen of Sheba is instructive of the respect paid Solomon by the monarchs of his day. Whether or no this queen was who we think she was, there is an historical basis for his reputation of wisdom, wealth and worship. This queen paid respect to the man. Many are the legends that have grown up around this visit including tales of animals, the fabled wealth of her presents., and the Queen’s desire, that resulted in a man child who became king of the Ethiopians, a direct descendant of David. Whether the issue of a child is historically accurate is unsubstantiated, but the Abyssinians believe it and of certain knowledge is the possession of the Jewish faith by the Ethiopians. They claim as well to have rescued the Ark of the Covenant when it was later threatened and they claim to continue to possess it.

Solomon and the Bees
John Godfrey Saxe
I
When Solomon was reigning in his glory,
Unto his throne the Queen of Sheba came;
(So in the Talmud you may read the story)
Drawn by the magic of the monarch’s fame,
To see the splendours of his court, and bring
Some fitting tribute to the mighty King.

II
Nor this alone: much had her highness heard
What flowers of learning graced the royal speech;
What gems of wisdom dropped with every word;
What wholesome lesson he was wont to teach
In pleasing proverbs; and she wished in sooth,
To know if rumor spake the simple truth.

III
Besides, the Queen had heard (which piqued her most)
How through the deepest riddles he could spy’
How all the curious arts that women boast
Were quite transparent to his piercing eye;
And so the Queen had come—a royal guest—
To put the Sage’s cunning to the test.
IV
And straight she held before the monarch’s view,
In either hand a radiant wealth of flowers;
The one, bedeckt with every charming hue,
Was newly culled from Nature’s choicest bowers.
The other, no less fair in every part,
Was the rare product of divinest art.

V
“Which is the true, and which the false?” she said.
Great Solomon was silent. All amazed,
Each wondering courtier shook his puzzled head;
While at the garlands long the Monarch gazed,
As one who sees a miracle, and fain,
For every rapture ne’er would speak again.

VI
“Which is the true?” Once more the woman asked,
Pleased at the fond amazement of the king;
“So wise a head should not be hardly tasked
Most learned Liege, with such a trivial thing!
But still the sage was silent; it was plain
A deep’ning doubt perplexed his royal brain.

VII
While thus he pondered, presently he sees,
Hard by the casement—so the story goes—
A little band of busy bustling bees,
Hunting for honey in a withered rose.
The monarch smiled, and raised his royal head:
“Open the window!”—that was all he said.

VIII
The window opened at the King’s command.
Within the room the eager insects flew,
And sought the flowers in Sheba’s dexter hand,
And so the king and all the courtiers knew,
That wreath was Nature’s—and the baffled Queen,
Returned to tell the wonders she had seen.

IX
My story teaches (every tale should bear
A fitting moral) that the wise may find,
In trifles light as atoms of the air,
Some useful lesson to enrich the mind—
Some truth designed to profit or to please—
As Israel’s king learned wisdom from the bees.
403:114

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