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

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Shades of Cain: Bible Comment on II Chronicles 21 with poem by Christina Rossetti, Eve

Daily Readings
Sirach 13:25-14:27, II Kings 8, II Chronicles 21, Jeremiah 28

Daily Text: II Chronicles 21

Shades of Cain
The first of three evil rulers in Judah, Jehoram murders his six younger brothers upon his accession to the throne, treacherously attacks Edom, who allies herself with Libnah and successfully rebels. Shades of Cain! His tainted persononality reputedly comes from his marriage to Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel and Ahab. He reverses the righteous behavior of his ancestors and establishing high places begins to corrupt the people. At his death no one regrets his passing and he is not buried in the tomb of the kings. The people can always have the last word!

A singular note is the letter from Elijah. Normally, a prophet in Israel, Elijah writes Jehoram condemning him and cursing his house and his person. Both become reality. It is interesting that the curses that come from the LORD are usually noted at a later point in time, that is, even if the prophecy is given with a note of immediacy, its fulfillment often follows after an interval that may or may not seem appropriate. But follow it almost always does.

Christina Rossetti

‘While I sit at the door,
Sick to gaze within,
Mine eye weepeth sore
For sorrow and sin:
As a tree my sin stands
To darken all lands;
Death is the fruit it bore.

‘How have Eden bowers grown
Without Adam to bend them!
How have Eden flowers blown,
Squandering their sweet breath,
Without me to tend them!
The Tree of Life was ours,
Tree twelvefold-fruited,
Most lofty tree that flowers,
Most deeply rooted:
I chose the Tree of Death.

‘Hadst thou but said me nay,
Adam, my brother,
I might have pined away;
I, but none other:
God might have let thee stay
Safe in our garden
By putting me away
Beyond all pardon.

‘I, Eve, sad mother
Of all who must live,
I, not another,
Plucked bitterest fruit to give
My friend, husband, lover.
O wanton eyes run over;
Who but I should grieve?—
Cain hath slain his brother:
Of all who must die mother,
Miserable Eve!’

Thus she sat weeping,
Thus Eve our mother,
Where one lay sleeping
Slain by his brother.
Greatest and least
Each piteous beast
To hear her voice
Forgot his joys
And set aside his feast.
The mouse paused in his walk
And dropped his wheaten stalk;
Grave cattle wagged their heads
In rumination;
The eagle gave a cry
From his cloud station:
Larks on thyme beds
Forbore to mount or sing;
Bees drooped upon the wing;
The raven perched on high
Forgot his ration;
The conies in their rock,
A feeble nation,
Quaked sympathetical;
The mocking-bird left off to mock;
Hugh camels knelt as if
In deprecation;
The kind hart’s tears were falling;
Chattered the wistful stork;
Dove-voices with a dying fall
Cooed desolation
Answering grief by grief.
Only the serpent in the dust,
Wriggling and crawling,
Grinned an evil grin, and thrust
His tongue out with its fork.

Collect for the Day
We give you thanks,
yes, more than thanks, O Lord our God,
the Father of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
for all your goodness
at all times and in all places,
because you have shielded, rescued, helped,
and guided us all the days of our lives,
and brought us to this hour.

We pray and beseech you, merciful God,
to grant in your goodness
that we may spend this holy day
and all the time of our lives without sin,
in fullness of joy, health, safety, holiness,
and reverence of you.

But all envy, fall fear, all temptation,
all the influence of Satan,
all the snares of the wicked,
O Lord, drive away from us,
and from your Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Bestow upon us, O Lord, what is good and meet.
Whatever sin we commit in thought, word or deed,
in your goodness and mercy
be pleased to pardon.

Leave us not, O Lord, while we hope in you;
nor lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one and from his works
through the grace, mercy and love
of your Only-Begotten Son.

Through whom and with whom be glory and power to you,
in your most holy, good and life-giving Spirit,
now, henceforth, and for ever more.

[489:57:March 6]


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