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, July 02, 2005

The Heavy Hand of Holiness

Daily Readings
Psalm 95 + I Samuel 6:1-7:2 + Judith 2 + Mark 15

Quote of the Day
Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews? Mark 15: 12

Daily Text: I Samuel 6:1-2, 10-12, 20
The ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2Then the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, "What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us what we should send with it to its place."
10 The men did so; they took two milch cows and yoked them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11They put the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the box with the gold mice and the images of their tumors. 12The cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. 20Then the people of Beth-shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? To whom shall he go so that we may be rid of him?"


Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

The Heavy Hand of Holiness
The issue surrounding all of this agitation is the holiness of the God of Israel, the otherness of YHWH. The Philistines cannot take having the ark of God in their cities. If they had only turned to him and worshipped him they would have been alright, but evidently that never occurred to them. This was the God of the despised Hebrews and so they sent him ‘back.’ Initially overjoyed to see the ark of God, some of their number either refused to be ‘overjoyed’ or more likely they curiously looked into the ark ignoring the well-known taboo against doing so. Several, perhaps as many as seventy from one clan died for this behavior. Shades of Sinai. The Otherness, the Holiness of God is frightening to humankind. Even those who originally welcomed the ark at Beth-shemesh, suddenly feared it and wanted to get rid of ‘him.’ Suddenly, what had happened to the Philistines was no longer hilarious; Israelites too were subject to the wrath of God.

What to do with the holiness of God? It is a question that always haunts the believer and the would-be believer. Responses have ranged from those who hie themselves away into a wilderness to those who immerse themselves in the world around them. The one trying to become ‘other’ themselves, and the latter ignoring the implications. In the New Testament there is the invitation to become ‘perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.’ Such ‘otherness’ is not stigmatized, but invited, and some of the best models for it include those who stayed very involved in the world around them. The holiness of God is to be emulated, but not idolized. The Philistines ‘bought’ their peace with gold and the recognition that YHWH was to be feared. I love the test they contrived to figure out whether God was indeed in control or whether the tumors and the mice were coincidental. They had no question by the end of the day. The Beth-shemesh community simply feared him and wanted ‘him’ gone. They knew that death had come at God’s hand and they were unwilling to look reflectively at their own behavior. But that is what we are called to throughout Holy Scripture. There need be no one answer, but each community must wrestle with the question of the holiness of God and the response of their own community.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

Batter My Heart
from “Holy Sonnets,” XIX
John Donne,
1573-1671

Batter my heart, three-personed God: for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lovèd fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free;
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
407:321

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Amusement Comes to Israel

Daily Readings
Psalm 94 + I Samuel 5 + Judith 1 + Mark 14

Quote of the Day
If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. Psalm 94:17

Daily Text: I Samuel 5:1-4, 6-7
When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod; 2then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and placed it beside Dagon. 3When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4But when they rose early on the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.
6 The hand of the LORD was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and struck them with tumors, both in Ashdod and in its territory. 7And when the inhabitants of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us; for his hand is heavy on us and on our god Dagon."

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Amusement comes to Israel
Despite the stress of losing the Ark this event must have become the source of much hilarity for Israel. God is captured, but O what an unhealthy capture. Instead of staying ‘defeated’ in the temple of Dagon, the God of Israel knocks Dagon off his perch, breaking off hands and head. What can a headless and handless god do? The aetiological story of why in future the Philistines jumped over the threshold of Dagon’s temple, because the god had fallen inept upon it, must have doubled the Hebrew storyteller’s audiences over in uncontrolled mirth. But beyond this indisputable sign of his power, boils broke out on the anuses of the Philistines. This is the probable translation of which ‘tumor’ is the genteel expression. One can imagine the ribald remarks accompanying the telling of this tale. And then the Ark progresses from city to city, three of the five major cities of the ‘Sea People,’ and proceeds to bring ever more destruction, fear—even panic, to them. YHWH remains unhampered by his people, his captors and his ‘royal box.’ He demonstrates for Philistia and for his greatly amused people, that he is sovereign over all people and their idols.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

In the Vastness, a God
Author Unknown

Deathless, though godheads be dying,
Surviving the creeds that expire,
Illogical, reason defying,
Lives that passionate, primal desire;
Insistent, persistent, forever
Man cries to the silence, “Never
Shall Death reign the lord of the soul,
Shall the dust be the ultimate goal—
I will storm the black bastions of Night,
I will tread where my vision has trod,
I will set in the darkness a light,
In the vastness, a god.”
404:151

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ichabod

Daily Readings
Psalm 93 + I Samuel 4:1b-22 + Tobit 14 + Ezekiel 34:11-16

Quote of the Day
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice. Ezekiel 34:16

Daily Text: I Samuel 4:5-13, 18, 21-22
5When the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, "What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" When they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp, 7the Philistines were afraid; for they said, "Gods have come into the camp." They also said, "Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, in order not to become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight."
10 So the Philistines fought; Israel was defeated, and they fled, everyone to his home. There was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11The ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
12 A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line, and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with earth upon his head. 13When he arrived, Eli was sitting upon his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. 18When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years. 21She named the child Ichabod, meaning, "The glory has departed from Israel," because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Ichabod
The Ark of God is taken is battle! There is only one response from an Israelite—despair. The priests Hophni and Phineas are both killed on one day as was prophecied, Eli falls and dies when he hears about the ark, his daughter-in-law bears a son prematurely and names him Ichabod—the glory has departed. More than the loss of battle, more than the fact that their enemies now have the Ark of God's presence is the fear that God is gone. One of the drawbacks of God’s agreeing to live in a box is the Israelites tendency to believe that He did.

A Christian parallel to this heresy is our tendency to call a building ‘the Church.’ We put our money where our mouth is and like three meals a day our resources disappear into its maw. But God has been clear. He resides within us. The Church is not a building, but the people, the congregation of the faithful. God has tried to create a new thing among his people, but one wonders if we ever see anything new under the sun.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

Ichabod
John Greenleaf Whittier
1807-1892

Daniel Webster was a great champion of the anti-slavery movement in the United States. But to preserve the Union and to give the Northern states time to prepare for war he agreed to a compromise in the Senate with the Fugitive Slave Law that allowed slave hunters to roam throughout the Union recovering runaways. John Greenleaf Whittier, for whom Webster was a hero, was stricken and wrote Ichabod to express his dismay. One might say, that while God had not departed, God’s principle (and one of His principal’s) had departed. It was a sad day.

So fallen! So lost! the light withdrawn
Which once he wore!
The glory from his gray hairs gone
Forevermore!

Revile him not, the Tempter hath
A snare for all;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
Befit his fall!

Oh, dumb be passion’s stormy rage,
When he who might
Have lighted up and led his age,
Falls back in night.

Scorn! would the angels laugh, to mark
A bright soul driven,
Fiend-goaded, down the endless dark,
From hope and heaven!

Let not the land once proud of him
Insult him now,
Nor brand with deeper shame his dim,
Dishonored brow.

But let its humbled sons, instead,
From sea to lake,
A long lament, as for the dead,
In sadness make.

Of all we loved and honored, naught
Save power remains;
A fallen angel’s pride of thought,
Still strong in chains.

All else is gone; from those great eyes
The soul has fled:
When faith is lost, when honor dies,
The man is dead!

Then, pay the reverence of old days
To his dead fame;
Walk backward, with averted gaze,
And hide the shame!
428:70

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you
.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Unpardonable Sin

Daily Readings
Psalm 92 + I Samuel 3:1-4:1a + Tobit 13 + Mark 13

Quote of the Day
A bright light will shine to all the ends of the earth; many nations will come to you from far away, the inhabitants of the remotest parts of the earth to your holy name, bearing gifts in their hands for the King of heaven. Generation after generation will give joyful praise in you, the name of the chosen city will endure forever. Tobit 13:11

Daily Text: I Samuel 3:1-4, 10-14, 19-21
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4Then the LORD called, "Samuel! Samuel!" and he said, "Here I am!" 10Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever."
19 As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD. 21The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Unpardonable Sin
The imagery in this chapter is striking. It has to do with vision. Eli, perhaps an image of Israel, has grown old, lost his sight, his ability to listen and hear and lost his way, as well. Therefore the word of the LORD was rare and visions were just as rare. Samuel comes in, young, faithful willing to listen and to see and the word of the LORD is heard again in the land. This is not simply a matter of aging, but spiritual receptivity. Even the emphasis on sleeping quarters carrys out this image. Eli sleeps in his nearby room, but not in the Most Holy Place. Samuel sleeps in the Most Holy Place, just off from the sanctuary and the Ark of the Covenant. In that room is the altar of incense, table of shewbread and the menorah or lamp of God that burns all night. God comes to Samuel in a vision. Presumably it has both visual and auditory components. We often ignore the message of the vision in our interest in the call of Samuel, but all of the description is supplied by an editor. The message from the LORD is the critical element. And that message is negative. Eli’s house, the house Aaron, brother to Moses, is on its way out. There will be no forgiveness for the acts of Hophni and Phineas—their sins are unpardonable. And, Eli, righteous though he may be, has not exercised authority over his own house and is held responsible.

The mirrored side of this message is the positive one that Samuel has become the new priest, prophet and indeed ruler in Israel. In one verse, 19, Samuel ‘grew up,’ and became an oracle for God to all Israel from Dan to Beersheba, North to South. While the other judges are said to have served Israel, this may be the first time, the only time that all of Israel is explicitly included. God is doing a new thing in Israel.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

Eli and Samuel
Edward Everett Hale
1822-1909

The open vision ceases from the land,
God’s word becomes more rare, and
yet more rare;
Eli, thine eyes wax dim! Although thou stand
In God’s own house, thou dost not see
him there!
He speaks! list, Eli, to the precious word!
Alas, that word is not for such as thee;
Thy sealèd ears no voice of God have heard,--
Thy sluggard eyes no open vision see.
Wherefore should not the lamp of God burn out?
The seer of God is blind, and nothing sees!
Who shall light Israel through her
clouds of doubt?
Whom shall God call upon in nights like these?
The priest dreams still of earth. Lo!
God has smiled,
And called on one like heaven,--a ministering child.
411:158

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you

Monday, June 27, 2005

Grace:Embraced or Despised

Daily Readings
Psalm 91 + I Samuel 2 + Tobit 12 + Mark 12

Quote of the Day
Therefore the LORD the God of Israel declares: ‘I have promised that your family and the family of your ancestor should go in and out before me forever’; but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt.” I Samuel 2:30

Daily Text: I Samuel 2:1, 11-12, 18-19, 30
Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.
11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, while the boy remained to minister to the LORD, in the presence of the priest Eli. 12Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD 18Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 30Therefore the LORD the God of Israel declares: 'I promised that your family and the family of your ancestor should go in and out before me forever'; but now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt.

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Grace:Embraced or Despised
Samuel is perhaps three years old when left with Eli, the priest, at Shiloh. (We know from II Maccabees 7:27 that at least some Hebrew mothers nursed this long.) The image is an adorable one. He wears a little linen robe with an ephod or holy apron—the garments of priests. It appears that even as a very little chap he served a priestly function. Interesting this image of responsible childhood.

Compare that to the irresponsible priesthood of Phineas and Hophni, sons of Eli. They literally ran rampant, sexually accosting the women who maintain the temple access, taking sacrifices before they are even properly offered and threatening with violence those who would restrain them. Their father in a very direct manner chastises them. Often portrayed as weak, his words used today would be considered strong, perhaps even reckless. He literally suggests that they are committing unpardonable sins (2:25), however, he had no influence over them.

Samuel on the other hand is growing in stature and favor with God and man and Eli has much good influence over him, which we will see in chapter three. The upshot of all of this is that God withdraws his favor from Eli’s line, suggesting that another will take his place. In verse 30 we see again the position that God respects the choices of humans created in his image. If they follow him he embraces them; if they reject him he honors their choice. So different from the meaningless universalism taught by so many today. Erasmus says it clearly in some advice written to the sixteen-year-old Charles of Burgundy, the future Emperor Charles V.:
“…do not think that Christ is found in ceremonies, in doctrines kept after a fashion, and in constitutions of the church. Who is truly a Christian? Not
he who is baptized or anointed or who attends church. It is rather the man
who has embraced Christ in the innermost feelings of his heart, and who
emulates Him by his pious deeds….
“You, too, must take up your cross, or else Christ will have none of
you. ‘What,’ you ask, ‘is my cross?’ I will tell you: Follow the right, do violence to no one, plunder no one, sell no public office, be corrupted by
no bribes’” [429:43].
The essence is right here in I Samuel, chapter 2, verse 30. The examples are Hophni, Phineas and Samuel.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

Samuel’s Prayer
John Keble

With joy the guardian Angel sees
A duteous child upon his knees,
And writes in his approving book
Each upward, earnest, holy look.

Light from his pure aërial dream
He springs to meet morn’s orient beam,
And pours towards the kindling skies
His clear adoring melodies.

Some glorious seraph, waiting by,
Receives the prayer to waft on high,
And wonders, as he soars, to read
More than we know, and all we need.

More than we know, and all we need,
Is in young children’s prayer and creed.
They, for their home, before Him fall,
He, for his church, receives their call.

They cry with simple voice and clear,
“Bless Father, Mother, Brethren dear.”
He for the priests of his dread Son
Accounts the blessing asked and won.

For holy priests and matrons mild,
For penitents and undefiled,
For dying saints, for babes new-born,
He takes their offering, eve and morn.

He gives the frail and feeble tongue
A doom to speak on sin and wrong;
Unconscious they stern lightnings aim,
When His ten Precepts they proclaim.

Thus in the tabernacle shade
At morn and eve young Samuel prayed,
Nor knew God’s ark should win,
Forfeit by priest’s and people’s sin.

To Eli thus dread words he spake:--
Ye hearts profane, with penance ache;--
A wondrous peal o’er Israel rung,
Heaven’s thunder from a child’s meek tongue.
395:193

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Israel's Solution

Daily Readings
Psalm 90 + I Samuel 1 + Tobit 11 + Mark 11

Quote of the Day
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

Daily Text: I Samuel 1:1-6, 9-11, 24-28
There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. 4On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; 5but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. 6Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.
9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD.* Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. 10She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. 11She made this vow: ‘O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite* until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants,* and no razor shall touch his head.’ 24When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,* an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh; and the child was young. 25Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26And she said, ‘Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. 27For this child I prayed; and the LORD has granted me the petition that I made to him. 28Therefore I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is given to the LORD.’
She left him there for* the LORD.

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Israel’s Solution
If the presupposition of the Book of Judges was that a king was certainly needed, because the people had sunk to a level of unfaithfulness to the LORD, then we have ample motivation for creating a new book, Samuel, to carry on the story. For Samuel begins with no hope, no word from God, a woman, Hannah who is barren, persecuted by her fruitful adversary, Penninah. Hannah carries the plight of Israel in her own story. This suggestion follows Brueggemann [430:12 ]. God’s gift to her is Samuel, God’s gift to Israel. The last of the judges, yes, but kingmaker as well, and king is the sought after solution to Israel’s problem. Eventually, for the Deuteronomist, David becomes king and the solution of a godly king, who raises the worship of the LORD to covenantal heights in Jerusalem as the ultimate solution.

Hannah is barren, though loved. Think Israel. Hannah goes with her husband and his second wife and children to the yearly festival of the LORD in Shiloh. Elkanah shares his festival offering with the women and children in his family, something not always done. He gives a portion to his second wife and her children, but he gives a special portion to Hannah. That portion is referred to in the Hebrew as ‘one portion, a face….’ My suggestion is that it means a choice portion, like breast from chicken rather than a leg! It is known that the principal persons at a feast receive the choicest morsels and my suggestion is that this is extended to Hannah and not to Penninah, because Elkanah loves Hannah. Again, Hannah prefigures Israel who is the LORD’s choice one, though not doing as well as the surrounding nations. Elkanah loves her more than ten sons! This may also suggest that Samuel is God’s gift to Israel, the man of God, the faithful one, more faithful than a king.

How often the gift of God to us comes in an unrecognizable package. If we are listening and waiting and praying as was Hannah, we may come to recognize the gift as God’s answer. All too often we do not, as Israel did not.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

Hope
Christopher Smart

Ah! Hannah, why shouldst thou despair,
Quick to the tabernacle speed;
There on thy knees prefer thy prayer,
And there thy cause to mercy plead.

Her pious breathings now ascend,
As from her heart the sighs she heaves;
And angels to her suit attend,
Till strong in hope she now conceives.

Then Samuel soon was brought to light
To serve the LORD, as yet a child—
O what a heart-reviving sight!
Sure cherubims and seraphs smiled.

Thus yet a child may I begin
To serve the LORD with all my heart,
To shun the wily lures of sin,
And claim the prize, or e’er I start.
[395:192]

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.