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.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What Really Happened: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 9 with poem by A. M. Sullivan, Psalm Against the Darkness

Daily Readings
Psalm 82, Judges 4, Ezekiel 9, Tobit 3

Daily Text: Ezekiel 9

What Really Happened
Historically, Ezekiel 9 has nothing to do with the destruction of Jerusalem. But according to Ezekiel, this is what really happened. This is the metaphysical reality, a glimpse at the heart of the matter [503:130]. Six executioners were sent from the LORD accompanied by a scribe. The scribe was to put a mark (the Hebrew letter tau) on the forehead of every person in Jerusalem who grieved the sin and abominations of the people. Everyone else was to be slaughtered. In this way, limits were set on the destruction by the avenging LORD himself. The slaughter began with the 70 elders near the entrance of the temple (cf. 8:7-12). It did not stop until only those with the protective marks on their forehead were left alive. But perhaps more telling than the slaughter commanded of the Lord’s executioners, was the recital in verse 3. “…the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the Cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house.’

Psalm Against the Darkness
A.M. Sullivan

1896-

I
What shall we fear, son, now that the stars go down and silence is chilling the breath to a
pattern of frost?
Stalactites glisten from caverns of night for the grief of the world is hardened again into
swords.
Cankers of malice are boring their icy augers deep in the bosoms of men, and the hooves
of the four horsemen are heard on the roofs of the brain.
What is this prescience of doom, this stalk of evil that sucks the sap of the spirit, and
spreads the pollen of anger?
Some witch is abroad in the world, paroled for an hour of mischief to scatter her cockle in
furrows of greed.
We have taken the earth in our stride, but the boot is crusted in clay, and the cleat has
bruised the dream bogged low in the darkness.
Heads downward, we count the treadmill steps to the sky in a litany mixed wit a
laugh and wordy bluster of braggarts.

2
Standing on the rim of the world we beat hollow drums in our breasts, we shout into
caverns a challenge of God.
Nimble are we in the centuries to alter our skin, our tongue and our shrine, but never the
bloody oblation as Abraham also remembered.
Peace, peace, we cry, till our voice is shrilled to a paean, but the map men wrangle by
mountain and river.
Knowledge we gather as a conquering host, and pile the loot of the years in bins of oak
and of marble, but wisdom we cannot bequeath.
The heat of blood is the same as the night it spilled on the lichened rocks in a world too
small for the fingers of Cain.

3
Which is more difficult, son, to save the world, or end it swift in a vacuum, sans mark or
memory of men?
What is the goal of the centaur whose fingers have changed the wine of Cana to gall, who
sold his art to Magus and fouled the steps of the temple?
What shall we fear too much? Hate’s guarantee of our doom? Love’s indestructible
dawn? The half-god who stumbles on pride cannot end his world by the wishing.
A finger rising from conscience and shadowing the sun shall mark the hour with less than
His praise, yet curve a rainbow high over Golgotha.
The finger has written again on the curved deception of blue, and the words are
the old, old cry of “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”

4
There are two majorities, son, though you ask me no question. The nameless dead, the
unborn legions of time, but we are the thin minority, the living, who hold God’s
sceptre of light.
407:993

Collect for the Day
Strength of the weak, Defender of the needy, Rescuer of the poor, deliver us form the power of wickedness, that we may rejoice in your justice now and forever, through Jesus Christ our Lord. [476:816:82 Psalm prayer]

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