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

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Holy Influence

Daily Readings
Sirach 26:1-28 + II Kings 13 + II Chronicles 24 + Jeremiah 46

Quote of the Day
At two things my heart is grieved,
And because of a third
anger comes over me:
a warrior in want through poverty,
intelligent men who are treated contemptuously,
and a man who turns back from righteousness to sin—
the LORD will prepare him for the sword!
Sirach 26:28

Daily Text: II Kings 13

Holy Influence
There are two recitations of the life and works of Joash of Israel in this chapter. Could they have been competing versions? The first, vss. 10-13, simply mark him as following in the evil of his father and Jeroboam the I, and tell us that he is followed by Jeroboam II. The second is far more attractive for it leads to interaction with Elisha the prophet, vvs. 14-25. This second account is quite sympathetic for Joash comes to Elisha in a rather intimate interview. It is obvious that Elisha is dying and Joash weeps before him. Not only does he weep, but also he cries out with the words, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” In addition to using this very ancient title for a man of God (cf. Judges 17:10) Joash employs this phrase twice before seen in II Kings. The first time Elisha is crying the words as Elijah is taken from him. The second time is when Elisha is in Dothan and he asks the LORD to open the eyes of his servant that he might see. And the Scripture says, “So the LORD opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” [II Kings 6:17]. In these three instances the common elements are those of protection, accompaniment and in two instances travel companions. By ‘travel’ is meant the passage from life through death to life. And here that seems to be the significance of the phrase. Joash is able to see the accompanying presence of the angels of God, and he knows immediately that Elisha is dying for “the chariots of Israel and its horsemen” have gathered around him.

On his deathbed then, Elisha serves his king and his country one last time. He instructs Joash to shoot an arrow and to strike the ground with the remaining arrows from his quiver, both to indicate victory over the Aramean forces of Damascus. For one last time we see the intimacy with which Elisha moves in royal circles, but even more importantly we see the holy influence with which he prods and persuades and motivates the royal figures of his time.

The Singing Saviors
Clement Wood

“Dead men tell no tales!” they chuckled,
As the singing saviors died,
A few serene, and many shackled,
Scourged, tortured, crucified.

Dead men tell no tales. . . . Is Shelley
Dust blown dumbly over the ground?
Are Keats and Burns silenced wholly?
Do Milton’s stiff lips give no sound?

Is Shakespeare voiceless, Dante tongueless?
And, in this black, protesting year
Is the dead Jesus wordless, songless?
Listen!… They are all that you can hear!


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