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

Monday, June 19, 2006

For the Sake of My Name: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 20 with poem by Christina G. Rossetti, Despised and Rejected

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 5 Judges 16 Ezekiel 20:1-44 Tobit 14

Daily Text: Ezekiel 20:1-44

For the Sake of My Name
This ‘history’ is one with pathos and anger mixed. Over and over God recites to the exiles who come to consult him through the prophet, the history of their ancestor’s and their own duplicity. For they always have wanted to worship gods of wood and stone (vs. 32). This, the LORD says, has been true since the day I chose you in Egypt. Repeatedly, I wanted to destroy you, but did not for the sake of my Name in the eyes of the nations. So for that alone I continued to lead you out into the land promised. But nothing has ever changed. You are back in ‘egypt’ again, in exile again, and nothing ever changes. And because of that, I refuse to be consulted.

But in the last half of the last section, Ezekiel 20:39-44, the Divine One begins to sound notes of renewal. And he promises that all that are double minded will be weaned out of the land of Israel and scattered to the nations. And those in exile who are faithful will be brought back to the land. In the end there will yet be a faithful remnant living in holiness in real time upon God’s holy mountain. That time is still before us twenty-six centuries later.

Despised and Rejected
Christina G. Rossetti

My sun has set, I dwell
In darkness as a dead man out of sight;
And none remains, not one, that I should tell
To him mine evil plight
This bitter night.
I will make fast my door
That hollow friends may trouble me no more.

“Friend, open to Me.”—Who is this that calls?
Nay, I am deaf as are my walls:
Cease crying, for I will not hear
Thy cry of hope or fear.
Others were dear,
Others forsook me: what art thou indeed
That I should heed
Thy lamentable need?
Hungry should feed,
Or stranger lodge thee here?

“Friend, My Feet bleed.
Open thy door to Me and comfort Me.”
I will not open, trouble me no more.
Go on thy way footsore,
I will not rise and open unto thee.

“Then is it nothing to thee? Open, see
Who stands to plead with thee.
Open, lest I should pass thee by, and thou
One day entreat My Face
And howl for grace,
And I be deaf as thou art now.
Open to Me.”

Then I cried out upon him: Cease,
Leave me in peace:
Fear not that I should crave
Aught thou mayst have.
Leave me in peace, yea trouble me no more,
Lest I arise and chase thee from my door.
What, shall I not be let
Alone, that thou dost vex me yet?

But all night long that voice spake urgently:
“Open to Me, still harping in mine ears:
“Rise, let Me in.”
Pleading with tears:
“Open to Me that I may come to thee.”
While the dew dropped, while the dark hours were cold:
“My Feet bleed, see My Face,
See My Hands bleed that bring thee grace,
My Heart doth bleed for thee,
Open to Me.”

So till the break of day:
Then died away
That voice, in silence as of sorrow;
Then footsteps echoing like a sigh
Passed me by,
Lingering footsteps slow to pass.
On the morrow
I saw upon the grass
Each footprint marked in blood, and on my door
The mark of blood forevermore.

Collect for the Day
We let the world overcome us; we live too much in continual fear of the chances and changes of mortal life. We let things go too much their own way. We try too much to get what we can by our own selfish wits, without considering our neighbour. We follow too much the way and fashion of the day, doing and saying and thinking anything that comes uppermost, just because there is so much around us. Free us from our selfish interests, and guide us, good Lord, to see thy way and to do thy will. [489:164:September 11 Charles Kingsley, 1819-75]


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