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

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bloodguilt: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 21 with poem by Elizabeth Cheney, There is a Man on the Cross

Daily Readings
Proverbs 3, Numbers 28, Deuteronomy 21, Matthew 26

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 21

In each of these cases in Deuteronomy 21 instruction is given on how to prevent bloodguilt, how to keep the covenant intact that the people might rest secure within the promise of their possession, and all within the favor of their God. When an unknown person murders another, someone must take the responsibility for receiving absolution, and the someone was a cadre of elders from the closest town. The individual must treat a captive wife, a firstborn son, or a rebellious, disobedient child in specific ways in order to keep intact the divine covenant with Israel. Individuals were responsible for the whole community and the whole community for individuals. Even one accursed could affect the covenant and the community. The covenant broken brought Israel to her knees and to equality on the playing field of all humanity. St. Paul in Galatians 3:13 makes this point about the accursed Jesus. But when through the resurrection he was shown the favor of YHWH, then he and all like him—is there anyone who is not—were accursed no longer. Absolution became available to all, bloodguilt could be absolved.

There is a Man on the Cross
Elizabeth Cheney

Whenever there is silence around me
By day or by night—
I am startled by a cry.
It came down from the cross—
The first time I heard it.
I went out and searched—
And found a man in the throes of crucifixion,
And I said, “I will take you down,”
And I tried to take the nails out of his feet.
But he said, “Let them be
For I cannot be taken down
Until every man, every woman, and every child
Come together to take me down.’
And I said, “But I cannot hear you cry.
What can I do?”
And he said, “Go about the world—
Tell everyone that you meet—
There is a man on the cross.”

Collect for the Day
Blessed be thy name, O Jesu, son of the most high God; blessed be the sorrow thou sufferedst when thy holy hands and feet were nailed to the tree; and blessed thy love when, the fullness of pain accomplished, thou didst give thy soul into the hands of the Father; so by thy cross and precious blood redeeming all the world, all longing souls departed and the numberless unborn; who now livest and reignest in the glory of the eternal Trinity, God for ever and ever. [286:143:484 Eric Milner-White, 1884-1964]


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