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

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pilgrim Festivals: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 16:1-17 with an Anonymous poem, Pesach Le' Osid

Daily Readings
Wisdom of Solomon 16, Numbers 22:2-40, Deuteronomy 16:1-17, Matthew 20

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 16:1-17

Pilgrim Festivals
Sixteen Deuteronomy celebrates the pilgrim festivals, the ‘haj’ of the Jewish celebrations. In Deuteronomy each of these is celebrated in Jerusalem, the place the ‘LORD their God should choose.’ This is in keeping with the Deuteronomic determination to centralize (cf. chapter 12) Israel’s cult life. The festivals are Pesech (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukot (Tabernacles). Pesach, also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is directly tied to deliverance from Egypt, recreating it in the ‘Bread of Affliction’ (vs. 3). Shavuout, the Feast of weeks was celebrated for a day exactly seven weeks after the beginning of the grain harvest. It has come to be identified also with the day of the giving of the Law at Sinai. Sukot is at the end of the harvest season, a time of great rejoicing. While Pesach and Shavuot only required one day at Jerusalem, on Sukot the pilgrims stayed the entire week and celebrated. In our day, Sukot has inspired in the United States a Thanksgiving celebration on the fourth Thursday in November (185:1452).

Pesach Le’ Osid
(The Passover of the Future)

Israel in fetters still! The prophet’s wand
Shall stretch across the tyrant’s hapless land,
And prison doors shall straightway open wide,
And barring waters shall like walls divide,
To let the Lord’s redeemed pass dry-shod o’er
And reach a brighter, freer, friendlier shore.
The angel that unseen spreads seeds of death
And on each house corrupt pours poisoned breath
Shall pass the homes of God’s appointed by
And none that mark their lintel-posts shall die.
Hope paints this vision thus in golden hue
And, deathless as Hope, doth Faith bespeak it true,
Affliction’s bread shall yield to plenty’s leaven,
The clouds shall pass and earth shall grow like heaven.

Collect for the Day
O God, make us more conscious of Your gifts to us, and help us to see that no work truly prospers until it brings blessings to others. May our observance of this festival teach us not to withhold from others a share in the bounty that is ours, nor to dispossess them of what they have gleaned by their own efforts.

Help us, O Lord, so to live that when we have gathered our final harvest, many shall rise up and call us blessed. [471:396 for the Sabbath in Sukkot]


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