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

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

High Calling: Bible Comment on Leviticus 21 with poem by Carl P. Daw, Jr., from God of the Prophets

Daily Readings
Psalm 50, Exodus 40, Leviticus 21, Titus 2

Daily Text: Leviticus 21

High Calling
Leviticus 21 returns to requirements for priests, some of which we have seen previously. In the first instance we see that priests are generally not free to defile themselves with the dead, with the exception of close kin (vss.1-6). Beginning with verse 10 we find a reference, I believe, to a rota, perhaps of a week’s length (cf. chap. 8), during which time a particular priest, or set of priests, has the responsibility for the sacrifices. During that time they are considered ‘under the oil of annointing’ and may not even leave the Tent of Meeting, much less, defile themselves by attending to the dead even if that person were otherwise within the bounds set in vss. 1-6. There was no difference between Aaron and his sons in Leviticus 8. Why should there be a difference between the High Priest and other priests subsequently, i.e., relating to the dead?

Another matter of interest is in the prevention of anyone with a physical blemish becoming a priest. At first that ruling seems prejudicial and unworthy. At a second glance, we can see that the same requirements for the priest as for the sacrifice seem to be in play. There certainly is nothing wrong with the meat on lame sheep; that is not the issue. The issue is physical perfection. Recognition of priestly relationship is not ignored, for a blind son of a priest may eat of any sacrifice that any other family member may eat. But this notion of ‘only the best’ for God seems to be a consistent theme, and ‘best’ is here defined by ‘no physical imperfection.’

from God of the Prophets
Carl P. Daw, Jr.


Anoint them priests!
help them to intercede
with all thy royal priesthood born of grace;
through them thy Church presents in word and deed
Christ’s one true sacrifice
with thankful praise.
493:359:stanza 3

Collect for the Day
Blessed are you, God of glory; you call us to give up all our vain attempts to reach you, and to come before you in thanksgiving for your great salvation, shown to us in Jesus Christ our Lord. [476:770:50 Psalm prayer]

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