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 23, 2006

Resistance: Bible Comment on II Maccabees 8 with poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Judas Maccabaeus

Daily Readings
Proverbs 24, Joshua 13, II Maccabees 8, Ephesians 2

Daily Text: II Maccabees 8

Amazing how the explanations for God’s action change with the circumstances. Judas Maccabeus organizes resistance and the author notes: “As soon as Maccabeus got his army organized, the Gentiles could not withstand him, for the wrath of the Lord had turned to mercy” [II Maccabees 8:5]. This might be summarized ‘Act justly and God acts with you.’
But of course, life is not so simple, cf. Eleazar in chapter 6 and the seven brothers in chapter 8. Judas, however, is a remarkable leader. He plans strategically, he learns from his experience and he also prays and treats the people in an honorable manner. Life begins to be altered, though their enemies will never cease to be, and never be unready to aggress again and again.

from Judas Maccabæus
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Act III. Scene IV.

CAPTAINS. Lead us to the battle!
JUDAS. And let our watchword be
“The Help of God!”
Last night I dreamed a dream; and in my vision
Beheld Onias, our High-Priest of old,
Who holding up his hands prayed for the Jews.
This done,in the like manner there appeared
An old man,and exceding glorious,
With hoary hair, and of a wonder
And excellent majesty. And Onias said:
“This is a lover of the Jews, who prayeth
Much for the people and the Holy City,--
God’s Prophet Jeremias.” And the prophet
Held forth his right hand and gave unto me
A sword of gold; and giving it he said:
“Take thou this holy sword, a gift from God,
And with it thou shalt wound thine adversaries.”
CAPTAINS. The Lord is with us!

Collect for the Day
The story, Lord, is as old as history,
as remorseless as man:
Man the raider, the plunderer, the terrorist,
the conqueror,
Defiling the light of dawn with
The conspiracies of night,
Perverting to evil the fine instruments of nature,
Dealing fear among the tents and the homesteads
Of the unsuspecting or the weak,
Confiscating, purloining, devastating.

The passions are more subtle in our time—
The fire-power of bombs for the dust-clouds of cavalry,
Napalm and incendiary and machines in the skies,
Devices for war decrying the stars,
New skills with the same curse of destruction,
The sanctity of mankind in the jeopardy of techniques,
Gracelessness against the majesty on high.

By the truth of the eternal exposure,
By the reckoning of the eternal justice,
By compassion upon kin and kind,
By the awe of thy sovereignty,
Turn our deeds, O good Lord,
Repair our ravages,
Forgive our perversities.
O God, give peace, grateful peace.
[489:222:December 8 Kenneth Cragg]


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