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 05, 2006

Sacred Donations: Bible Comment on Leviticus 22 with poem by Madeleine L'Engle, Shout Joy!

Daily Readings
Psalm 53, Numbers 1, Leviticus 22, Titus 3

Daily Text: Leviticus 22

Sacred Donations
Sacred donations are those portions of sacrifices that the priest’s may legitimately claim for their own and their family’s use. Having that understood Leviticus 22 is quite readily understandable in its own terms. There is a fascinating section that deals with humane treatment of animals in verses 26-28. It is noteworthy that in spite of the number of animals used in animal sacrifice, the Jewish people with their kosher laws, which require humane killing methods, continue today far more humane than the rest of the population in the way animals are treated. Slaughter house practices in the United States are generally so sadistic and cruel as to be justifiable cause for widespread vegetarianism, even if there were not other sound and sane reasons. The conclusion of the chapter, vss. 31-33, are more important than their ordinariness might suggest—ordinariness in the sense of their familiar injunctions concerning honoring the name of God, the very God who brought these people out of slavery in Egypt. Plaut cites SIFRA from the Halachah.

Though the context treats of ritual purity, tradition regarded this passage as the classical source for the law of martyrdom…. To prevent public profanation of God’s name (“in the midst of the Israelite people”), the Jew should die rather than transgress even a minor commandment. He should offer himself unreservedly, without expectation of a miracle (Dan. 3:16 ff.). Julianus and Pappus, two rebels against the Roman tyranny, were captured. The Roman officer who ordered their execution tauntingly asked them, “why does your God not rescue you as He rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego?” They replied, “The three men were altogether worthy of a miracle and Nebuchadnezzar was a great king who deserved to be the instrument of a miracle. But you are a wicked ruler and do not merit such an honor, and we have incurred death for our sins. If you do not slay us, God has many other agents to punish us—lions and leopards, snakes and scorpions. But, in the end, you will be punished for our death.” And the tale reports that, before the execution had taken place, orders arrived from Rome to put that officer to death. [185:918]

Shout Joy!
Madeleine L’Engle

O sing unto God
and sing praises unto his Name
magnify him that rideth upon the heavens
praise him in his Name
shout it
cry it aloud upon the wind
take the tail of his steed
and fling across the sky
in his wild wake
he cannot be caught
he cannot be fled
he cannot be known
nor his knowledge escaped
the light of his Name
blinds the brilliance of stars
catch the falling dragon
ride between his flailing wings
leap between the jaws of the lion
grasp the horn of the unicorn
calling with mighty voice
caught in star flame
whipped by comet lash rejoice before him
cry above the voices of the cherubim
shout alongside the seraphim
bellow joy behind kings
scattered by the quaking of his hills
fleeing before his fire
rush like snow through his thunderous flame
crying with gladness
adoration of his Name
God is Lord

Collect for the Day
God of hope, in times of trouble save us from blind despair and help us to wait in confidence for the bloom of new life which, in the darkness, we cannot imagine. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. [476:773:53 psalm prayer]


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