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

Monday, October 30, 2006

Knowledge, Intelligence and Counsel: Judith 5:1-21 with poem by Bliss Carman, Lord of the Far Horizons

Daily Readings
Sirach 42, Nehemiah 1, Judith 5:1-21, Philemon

Daily Text: Judith 5:1-21

Knowledge, Intelligence and Counsel
Judith 5 focuses on the report that alone of all the peoples of the region the Jews are resisting Holofernes. Puzzled he asks his advisors from the region—Moab, Ammon and Philistia—what this is about. Essentially, Holofernes is requesting whatever they have, i.e., knowledge, intelligence and counsel. Achior, leader of the Ammonites, responds loyally with all three. He knows intimately the history of this people. He understands how their God works with them for good and for ill, and finally, he suggests a safe process for defeating them without angering their God.

But no one in that company wants to admit that they are subject to the whims of Israel’s God. What is fascinating here is the contributing and parallel advice given Holofernes by Achior and later by Judith. Achior, knowing that God’s favor rests on Jewish obedience, counsels patience. Judith, when she is addressing Holofernes in chapter 11 knows and says the same thing, but she offers the addition al virtue of knowing the manner by which they are about to sin. So interwoven is the testimony of Achior and Judith that Holofernes, given the added incentive that he is thoroughly entranced by Judith sexually, is finally ready to listen, and he does so without question. It is obvious to this author that Holofernes understood Achior’s integrity from the beginning and only treated him as he did because of the impatience of his other advisors.

Note finally, that once again the people of God behave differently from the people of every other nation. It is this difference that God always asks. The behavior of one who lives for and trusts God implicitly is very different from the behavior of one whose religion does not define his/her life, but is only a part of it.

Lord of the Far Horizons
Bliss Carman

Lord of the far horizons,
Give us the eyes to see
Over the verge of sundown
The beauty that is to be.
Give us the skill to fashion
The task of Thy command,
Eager to follow the pattern
We may not understand.

Master of ancient wisdom
And the lore lost long ago,
Inspire our foolish reason
With faith to seek and know.
When the skein of truth is tangled,
And the lead of sense is blind,
Foster the fire to lighten
Our unillumined mind.

Collect for the Day
O he sons of the Buddha! The radiant body of the Tathāgata
in innumerable ways bestows benefits upon all beings.

It benefits us with its universal illumnination which vanquishes
the darkness of ignorance harboured in all beings.

It benefits us through its great compassionate heart,
which saves and protects all beings.

It benefits us through its great loving heart,
which delivers all beings from the misery of birth and death.

It benefits us by giving us a firm belief in the truth
which cleanses all our spiritual impurities.

The innumerable rays of the light of intelligence emanate
everlastingly from the spiritual body of the Tathāgata.

Whoever sees this light obtains the purest eye of the Dharma.



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