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

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Divine Jurisprudence: Bible Comment on Zechariah 3 with poem by Laurence Housman, The Help-Givers

Daily Readings
Sirach 11, II Kings 4, Zechariah 3, Jeremiah 24

Daily Text: Zechariah 3

Divine Jurisprudence
Zechariah 3 is a vision of a court proceeding involving a man named Joshua, high priest of the people of God. He stands before a judge, probably the LORD himself, though he is referred to at times as the Angel of the LORD. The prosecuting attorney is Satan and the defender for the accused an Angel of the LORD. When the Accuser begins the LORD rebukes him, for Joshua, says he, is ‘ a brand plucked from the fire .’ The judge then has Joshua stripped of his filthy clothes. It is likely that these filthy clothes represents not only his own sin, but the sins of the people. There is at the time no temple, and no liturgy for making sacrifice. This vision provides the people through Zechariah a way to make a beginning in the Second Temple. Joshua has been stripped of his guilt and clothed with clean, even royal garments, making him ready for the courts of the LORD and therefore, the temple as well. Undoubtedly, the people would have understood this immediately.
Joshua, and therefore the people of Judah, is also promised a Davidic or Messianic King—the Branch. Whether the removal of the ‘guilt of the land’ in one day is to be a Messianic event or the high priest’s renewed sacrifice for the people on the coming Day of Atonement is indeterminable. What is significant is that through his vision Zechariah sees a way forward for his people in reestablishing the Temple.

The Help-Givers
Laurence Housman

Pride held my will:
Too much was to disown,
Too many a need I still
Could not unsay:
High Help at hand,
I willed to stand alone,
Fearful for self, for self I would not pray.

Then came a day:
Judged and condemned, enduring without hope—
I learned how, near at hand, two prisoners lay
In separate cells, each waiting for the rope:
Fearful of that whose touch would put away
All griefs and fears.
And helpless I, to aid
Their hapless state—
Lighten, or lift from them that stroke of fate—
With heartfelt tears,
For those poor souls, I prayed,
That them from utter wreck
Some Help might save!

Then to my heart
There came a rending wave:
Across my neck
A sudden rope was flung;
Up went a light,
And I, of land, had sight,--
Where, dark against the sky, two murderers clung,
And in the baffling storm, hand over hand,
Hauled on the line
Which drew my feet to land!

Lord, in Thy Kingdom’s day, remember them—
Whate’er they did—who helped me, in my need,
To touch Thy raiment’s hem!

Collect for the Day
O eternal God, King of all creation, who hast brought me to this hour, forgive me the sins which I have committed this day in thought, word, and deed, and cleanse, O Lord, my humble soul form every stain of flesh and spirit.

Grant me, O Lord, to pass through the sleep of this night in peace, to rise from my lowly bed, to please thy holy name all the days of my life, and to vanquish the enemies both bodily and spiritual that contend against me.

Deliver me, O Lord, from the vain thoughts that stain me, and from evil desires. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, now and for ever and unto the ages of ages.

[489:66:March 23 Macarius of Egypt, c. 300-90]


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