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

Friday, May 19, 2006

Treachery: Bible Comment on II Maccabees 4 with poem by Joseph ibn Abitur, Confession

Daily Readings
Proverbs 20, Joshua 9, II Maccabees 4, Colossians 2

Daily Text: II Maccabees 4

Full of connivance and betrayal, II Maccabees 4 details the treachery of Simon, Appollonius, Jason, Menelaus, Andronicus, Lysimachus and others. The sense of it is that not only Onias, the legimate high priest has suffered, but also the people, the temple, and the Lord, himself. So profuse has evil become, that not even the Lord can keep up with its weedy flourishing. Only Andronicus, a Greek, is brought to justice by the Lord (4:38), but perhaps he is the exception because by his hand Onias III, the legitimate and pious high priest was slain treacherously. It will be chapter 13 before Menelaus receives his due! But his fate is coming.

Joseph ibn Abitur

I know, my God that I have done violence to myself,
that I have brought destruction upon my Temple.
My own crimes have trapped me,
my lies have risen up against me;
for my sins have swept over my head.

I am the sinner, the evil-doer,
from my very inception.
I alone am guilty, no other is at fault;
no other is at fault;
no stranger shall have any part in my downfall.
Shame is my garment,
disgrace my clothing;
for my sins have swept over my head.

My very words convict me,
my lips bear witness against me.
Indeed, I was brought to birth in iniquity,
and my guilt was born with me.
My mother conceived me in guilt,
my father reared me in it.
There is no crime like mine,
it sets a snare for me;
for my sins have swept over my head.

This day’s crimes alone—
not even counting those of other days—would suffice.
If the Dread One were to punish me for the sins of a single day,
I would sink without any foothold,
and would find no redemption.
See what my crime has done,
how my folly has repaid me;
for my sins have swept over my head.

My assailant found me out,
I fell into the hands of my enemies,
because I anger my Creator and rebelled against my Rock.
I did not curb my passion;
now my enemy curbs me.
There is no guilt like mine,
no trap like the trap set for me;
For my sins have swept over my head.

If any man should wish to die by his own hands,
my sin and I shall join him,
and he will not be alone.
No man, not even a slave,
would desire to live from such a beginning to such an end.
I swim in a sea of crime;
who will lift me up out of my filth?
For my sins have swept over my head.

My mother’s sons are oppressed;
I must answer for the violence done to them.
O my Lord, I shall never be purged of the blood
of my children and infants,
for I killed them with my sins and misdeeds.
My own hand wounded me,
my own self did me wrong;
For my sins have swept over my head.

My iniquities stood up against me,
I could not stand my ground.
They raised their hand high over me,
charged at me defiantly.
Then heaven and earth
saw their vengeance upon me.
Now I weep every night, all year long,
and on Sabbaths too, and on New Moons;
For my sins have swept over my head.

The dwellers of the underworld detest me,
even the host of the impure abhor me.
They sense that I am loathsome,
they see that I am soiled.
My Lord, what shall I do,
what can I do?
Oh, turn to my cry and plea,
listen to my prayer;
For my sins have swept over my head.

I have no pleasure in life,
I have no enjoyment in death.
My sin afflicts me in life,
my guilt in death.
Hasten to me and help me,
O God, maker of my soul.
Forgive my crime, speed my salvation,
O my King, my Redeemer, my Holy One;
For my sins have swept over my head.

Collect for the Day
O Merciful God, who answerest the poor,
Answer us,
O Merciful God, who answerest the lowly in spirit,
Answer us,
O Merciful God, who answerest the broken of heart,
Answer us.
O Merciful God,
Answer us.
O Merciful God,
Have compassion.
O Merciful God,
O Merciful God,
O Merciful God, have pity upon us,
And at a near time.
[286:848 Day of Atonement, Prayer in Darkness of Spirit]


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