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

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Without Malice: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 19 with poem by Abraham Lincoln, With Malice Toward None

Daily Readings
Proverbs 1, Numbers 25, Deuteronomy 19, Matthew 23

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 19

Without Malice
To be free of evil, without malice, protecting the innocent while upholding the right of the avenger, seems to be a fair summary of Deuteronomy 19. Deuteronomic Torah is an admixture of religious and social law. It seems to make little differentiation between the two. As in chapter 17:7, 12 the notion of purging evil from the national body politic is repeated twice and perhaps a third time in Deuteronomy 19 (cf. 13, 19 [21]). Purging evil seems to rest at the core of Israel’s religious and legal framework.

In the center of all of the references to the cities of refuge and the requirement for more than one witness, there falls this reference to not moving ancestral boundary markers (19:14). D. Hoffmann wrote, “The law follows the warning (verse 13) to purge the land of innocent blood. Moving a landmark defiles the land like spilled blood” [185:1472]. A malicious witness is surely as likely in such a case as in the case of manslaughter. Purge the land of malice.

With Malice Toward None
from the Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865
Abraham Lincoln,

With malice toward none;
With charity for all;
With firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right,
Let us strive on to finish the work we are in’
To bind up the nation’s wounds;
To care for him who shall have borne the battle,
And for his widow,
And his orphan—
To do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves,
And with all nations.

Collect for the Day
O God, who hast bound us together in this bundle of life, give us grace to understnd how our lives depend upon the courage, the industry, the honesty, and the integrity of our fellow-men; that we may be mindful of their needs, grateful for their faithfulness, and faithful in our responsibilities to them; through Jesus Christ our Lord. [286:71:201 Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971]


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