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

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Sinner's Prayer

Daily Readings
Prayer of Manasseh II Kings 21 + II Chronicles 32 + Lamentations 2

Quote of the Day
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned,
and I acknowledge my transgressions.
I earnestly implore you,
forgive me, O lord, forgive me!
Prayer of Manasseh 12, 13a –Manasseh

Daily Text: II Kings 21

The Sinner’s Prayer
The Book of the Kings gives an unrelieved and dismal picture of Manasseh’s reign. He does evil and is perhaps the worst of the Judean kings, performing as badly as Ahab of Samaria. His record is subsumed within a few paragraphs and he alone has placed an Asherah image within the temple bounds. On the other hand, he rules longer than any other king of Judah or Israel. How do we evaluate the many times when a bad king’s rule and life has been shortened by YHWH for his evil, when this the most evil of them all rules the longest of all?

There is a record in the Chronicles, chapter 33, that records a prayer of repentance made by Manasseh, perhaps when he is taken as a captive to Babylonia. If it is at all similar to The Prayer of Manasseh, it becomes obvious that not only did Manasseh understand the evil he was perpetuating, but he understood also what was required in the service of YHWH. For example,
I am weighted down with many an iron fetter,
so that I am rejected because of my sins,
and I have no relief; for I have provoked your wrath
and done what is evil in your sight,
setting up abominations and multiplying offenses.
And now I bend the knee of my heart,
imploring you for your kindness.
Perhaps God gave him the forgiveness he requested and allowed him to return to Jerusalem and continue as king. That is one way of understanding it. What makes it more difficult though is that his grandson, Josiah, was a wonderful king and when he repented of the error of his ways, there was no forgiveness in the sense of extended reign, as we shall see. There is something in all of this that does not meet the eye.

Only One Way
Author Unknown

However the battle is ended,
Though proudly the victor comes,
With fluttering flags and prancing nags
And echoing roll of drums,
Still truth proclaims this motto,
In letters of living light:
No question is ever settled
Until it is settled right.

Though the heel of the strong oppressor
May grind the weak in the dust,
And the voices of fame with one acclaim
May call him great and just,
Let those who applaud take warning,
And keep this motto in sight:
No question is ever settled
Until it is settled right.

Let those who have failed take courage;
Though the enemy seemed to have won,
Though his ranks are strong, if in the wrong
The battle is not yet done.
For, sure as the morning follows
The darkest hour of the night,
No question is ever settled
Until it is settled right.


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