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, June 17, 2006

A Riddle: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 17 with poem by Godfrey Fox Bradby, In Hoc Signo

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 2 Judges 13 Ezekiel 17 Tobit 11

Daily Text: Ezekiel 17

A Riddle
The parable is a riddle with animals and plants as in a fable. It would be a delightful poem if the historical reality behind were not so sad. Nebuchadnezzar, the first eagle, takes king Jehoichin of Judah as a prisoner to Babylon, leaving in his place Zedekiah, the planted seed, who forms a covenant with him to remain loyal. Once Nebuchadnezzar is out of sight, Zedekiah, the grapevine planted by Nebuchadnezzar, reaches out to Psammetichus II, Pharoah of Egypt, the second eagle. At this point his loyalties are transplanted. But can those transplanted loyalties thrive? It will only take an East wind, a Babylonian wind, to cause this vine to now wither and die.

In the interpretation, Ezekiel 17:11-21, the additional information is given that Zedekiah’s rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar was fundamentally a rebellion against YHWH. Therefore, the judgement that the king faces in Babylon is the Lord’s judgement against him.

Whereas the topmost shoot of the first cedar in vs. 3 & 4 refers to the house of David, so the ‘sprig from the lofty top of a cedar’ in vs. 22 is a new David, and will come to be known as the Messiah. God will in his own way and in his own time rebuild his house.

In Hoc Signo
Godfrey Fox Bradby

The Kingdoms of the Earth go by
In purple and in gold;
They rise, they triumph, and they die,
And all their tale is told.

One Kingdom only is divine,
One banner triumphs still;
Its King a servant, and its sign
A Gibbet on a hill.

Collect for the Day
Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest.
To give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to sek for rest;
to labour and not to ask for any reward
save that of knowing that we do thy will.
[475:515 Ignatius Loyola 1491-1556]


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