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

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The List

Daily Readings
Sirach 34 + Ezra 2 + Zephaniah 3 + Baruch 3

Quote of the Day
Learn where there is wisdom,
where there is strength,
where there is understanding,
so that you may at the same time discern
where there is length of days, and life,
where there is light for the eyes, and peace. Baruch 3:14

Daily Text: Ezra 2

The List
The exact purpose of this list is unknown, although today it tells us who the leaders of the returning Babylonian Jewish community were and the relative strength of their families. It lets us know that they provided for priests, Levites, and temple servants. And finally it gives some sense of how many people returned. There were roughly 50, 000 people returning. This was a gargantuan resettlement effort. This list is reproduced in I Esdras 5:7-46 and in Nehemiah 7:5-72. There are differences, but not many. I Esdras is obviously dependent upon Ezra; Nehemiah may have been compiled from a different source.

What the list does not tell us is that this is the second contingent to return. The first contingent is referenced in chapter 1:11 and 5:14-16 those who came in 538 with Sheshbazzar as governor. This list of folks came later in 520 with Zerubbabel as governor. Ezra is not readily understandable for it was not compiled in chronological sequence. Even much of Nehemiah is chronologically simultaneous or earlier than Ezra. In fact, Nehemiah the man preceded Ezra the man in their returns to Jerusalem. Note that in Ezra 2:2 Nehemiah was recorded and Ezra was not among them. One other matter of note is that Judah and Israel are no longer distinguishable. Israel simply refers to the people [vs. 70]. Exile has resulted in new strength, new vision, new devotion to the LORD.

Victory in Defeat
Edwin Markham
1852-1940

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch our spaces in the heart for joy.
407:915

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