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, March 11, 2006

Clear Expectations: Bible Commentary on Micah 6 with poem by Allen Eastman Cross, What Doth the Lord Require of Thee

Daily Readings
Psalm 95 Exodus 17 Micah 6 I Corinthians 5

Daily Text: Micah 6

Clear Expectations

Micah 6 presents YHWH taking Israel, the Northern Kingdom, into the court of creation. There the foundations of the earth, the ancient hills, are witnesses to the controversy between YHWH and Israel. Israel’s response is made by the prophet, and the final judgment is handed down by YHWH, one of the contenders. That is the structure of this historic passage.

The intimate relationship between creation, humanity and the Creator are highlighted. In contemporary society we are beginning to understand that our actions will be held accountable in the court of the created order. There is no way to escape that. It seems that the LORD enabled Micah to catch a glimpse of this truth in the eighth century B.C. (While scholars debate whether or not this chapter dates to the 8th century, there is little reason to believe it could not have done, and if it was addressed to the Northern Kingdom, as it appears to be, it must have been that early.)

In a recital of the Exodus, vs. 4, Moses, Aaron and Miriam are mentioned explicitly. Why these three? “The Targum (the late Aramaic paraphrase of the Old Testament that was regularly read in the synagogues) explains why these three persons are mentioned. He sent Moses as revealer of God’s will, that Israel might learn what was right. He sent Aaron as the atonement-making priest, who should free Israel from the burden of guilt when the people failed to live up to God’s will. And he sent Miriam to be the special teacher of women” [485:102].

The people respond in Micah’s words with ill-disguised and troubled questions about ritual sacrifice only to be corrected by Micah’s clarity that what God seeks is for us ‘to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.’ To do justice is to create a social order that reflects respect for every person, and each of us is responsible in our domain. To love kindness has a community component that suggests that we make common cause with our whole community, ‘that I have practiced a sense of community solidarity with you’ [485:109]. The Hebrew word, hesed, found here, bears that connotation of a communal bond that suggests a broad loyalty to others. To walk humbly with one’s God incorporates the first two and recognizes that we serve the community because that is what God desires, and we are under the authority of the God who created the universe, and who loves humankind enough to come himself in human form to die for that same humanity. Some of the details of justice, love and humility are found in the judgment of vss. 11, 12. The rest are found in the Torah and elsewhere. The summary of the law reminds us of this in New Testament terms. ‘Love God and your neighbor as yourself.’

What Doth The Lord Require of Thee
Allen Eastman Cross


What doth the Lord require of thee,
Friend of the friendless poor?
Put out thy hands upon thy cross,
And take the nails He bore!

What doth the Lord require of thee,
Son of the living God?
Challenge the whips that harry thee,
And break th’ oppressor’s rod!

What doth the Lord require of thee
If Justice be His name?
Let Mercy be the altar fire
To set thy soul aflame!

O Flame of God, O Son of Man,
Dare us to drink Thy blood,
To make our world of wrath and tears
A House of Brotherhood!

Collect for the Day
Lord, help me to know that:
he who is down need fear no fall,
he that is low, no pride;
he that is humble, ever shall
have God to be his guide.
Make me content with what I have,
little be it or much;
and, Lord, contentment ever crave,
because thou savest such.
475:255:528 adapted from John Bunyan


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