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, April 02, 2006

Holiness: Bible Commentary on Leviticus 19 with poem by James Henry Leigh Hunt, Abou Ben Adhem and the Angel

Daily Readings
Psalm 48 Exodus 38 Leviticus 19 II Timothy 4

Daily Text: Leviticus 19

The Golden Rule
Addressed to the entire congregation the LORD lays down twenty-five statutes to be observed by those who love Him. All of them premised on God’s holiness and his requirement that the people also be holy, these statues include the decalogue, but go beyond it as well. It is a sort of original Letter of James. “…faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (2:17-19). Here also belief in God is required alongside the ethical and moral requirements of the law. The agriculturist is to leave the edges and gleanings of his field for the poor who have insufficient sustenance. That is, there is social responsibility for all members of the society. The handicapped are to be honored and protected not ridiculed. Even in your husbandry there are matters to be observed, for all the creation comes within the circle of Israel’s God’s care. Treat aliens with the same care you treat your kin and your neighbor, and of course, that most famous dictum, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

The golden rule is not unique to Christianity, not unique to Judaism, Confucius is attributed a like teaching in a negative form and Kant is given credit for an abstract principle which essentially restates it in his categorical imperative (185:893). However, the first written form is found here in Leviticus 19:18. And it includes the alien “…you shall love the alien as yourself” (19:34). And the whole of this teaching is predicated on the holiness of God. He has one pattern of behavior among men and women within his creation, though Israel has the fullest knowledge of it. When they tie loving God with loving treatment of their fellow beings they bring honor to God’s name.

Abou Ben Adhem and the Angel
James Henry Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold;
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?” The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still, and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed;
And, lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest!

Collect for the Day
Gracious God, you have made us fellow-citizens with the saints in the city of your eternal light. In the time of storm, when the foundations shake, teach us to wait in silence on your steadfast and transforming love, made known to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
[476:766:48 Psalm prayer].


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