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 30, 2006

Trust: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 20 with poem by Lord Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib

Daily Readings
Proverbs 2, Numbers 26, Deuteronomy 20, Matthew 24

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 20

One theological requirement underlay the practices spoken of in Deuteronomy 20. While conscription into the military was evidently universal, fighting was not. Several exemptions were stated
• Exemption from a military battle to complete the building of a house
• Exemption from a battle to see to fruition the planting of a vineyard
• Exemption from a battle to marry a wife and to consummate that marriage
God willed his people to possess the land and that possession inevitably required military exercise. However, since God himself would lead the charge and win the victory for Israel,every individual was not critical to the success of the venture. Therefore, the matters above trumped the need for risking life and limb. The theological requirement was trust. Have that and all would be well; fail in that and all would be lost. There was no need for fear.

The Destruction of Sennacherib
George Gordon, Lord Byron

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen;
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostrils all wide,
But through them there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider, distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broken in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.

Collect for the Day
From that which we fear, O Lord, make us fearless.
O bounteous One, assist us with your aid.
Drive far the malevolent, the foeman.

May the atmosphere we breathe
Breathe fearlessness into us:
fearlessness on earth
and fearlessness in heaven!
May fearlessness guard us
behind and before!
May fearlessness surround us
above and below!
May we be without fear
of friend and foe!
May we be without fear
of the known and the unknown!
May we be without fear
by night and by day!
Let all the world be my friend!
[286283:858 from Raimundo Panikkar’s collection The Vedic Experience]


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