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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Greatness: Judith 5:22-6:21 with poem by Stephen Spender, "I Think Continually of Those----"

Daily Readings
Sirach 43, Nehemiah 2, Judith 5:22-6:21, I John 1

Daily Text: Judith 5:22-6:21

Greatness
Nothing unexpected occurs in Judith 5:22-6:21. Not trusting a military escort for Achior, Holofernes sends his personal aides with Achior to Bethulia. The transfer is contentious, but uneventful. Achior is, on the other side of the city walls, interrogated by the Jewish leadership, believed, and fêted; their prayers are renewed. What Achior has to say fits everything they have already surmised for themselves. Nothing has changed.

While Achior is indeed a hero, in this case one who has stood with integrity in the highest counsels of two opposing camps, nothing he has done changes anything. What is it that forms a man or a woman a Mandela, a Bishop Tutu, a Martin Luther King or a Judith, while many others, just as integrious, make little difference? Many a man and a woman fill a great role with lackluster, while others are great with or without the role. None of this is meant to disparage Achior. He was in his own right a great man. Far better to be an Achior than a Holofernes, who simply ends up by being a fool and a dead one at that! Parallels, in our own political, national and religious life, are close at hand.

“I Think Continually of Those------“
Stephen Spender

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun they travelled a short while toward the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.
407:910

Collect for the Day
O thou great Chief, light a candle in my heart, that I may see wht is therein, and sweep the rubbish from thy dwelling place.

[286:108:351]

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