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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Once Upon A Time: Judith 1 with poem by Angela Morgan, To-Day

Daily Readings
Sirach 38, Ezra 5, Judith 1, I Esdrus 6

Daily Text: Judith 1

Once Upon A Time
There is a fundamental conflict in this story. The historical information related to the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, and the war against Arphaxad is placed in a pre-exilic period. The context of Judith and the Jews, as well as the non-Jewish names, e.g., Holofernes, Bagoas, et. al., are post-exilic. The two do not coincide. There have been many attempts to reconcile the differences from calling Judith a novel, to renaming Nebuchadnezzar, Artaxerxes III. After defeating the fabled King Arphaxad and his capitol at Ecbatana, ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ and his troops returned for four months to Nineveh, the Assyrian capital (destroyed in 612 B.C. prior to Nebuchadnezzar’s coming to power in ca 604B.C). Even the opening words of Judith 1 may have been intended to set the stage for a fable, one the general reader in subsequent times misses. The apparent contradictions may have been recognizable like “Once upon a time” is in our day. The war between Nebuchadnezzar and Arphaxad was used to set the stage for the later threat to Judah and Jerusalem [comment ff. Moore, 534:Introduction].

Angela Morgan

To be alive in such an age!
With every year a lightning page
Turned in the world’s great wonder book
Whereon the leaning nations look.
When men speak strong for brotherhood,
For peace and universal good,
When miracles are everywhere,
And every inch of common air
Throbs a tremendous prophecy
Of greater marvels yet to be.
O thrilling age,
O willing age!
When steel and stone and rail and rod
Become the avenue of God—
A trump to shout His thunder through
To crown the work that man may do.

To be alive in such an age!
When man, impatient of his cage,
Thrills to the soul’s immortal rage
For conquest—reaches goal on goal,
Travels the earth from pole to pole,
Garners the tempests and the tides
And on a Dream Triumphant rides.
When, hid within the lump of clay,
A light more terrible than day
Proclaims the presence of that Force
Which hurls the planets on their course.
O age with wings
O age that flings
A challenge to the very sky,
Where endless realms of conquest lie!
When, earth on tiptoe, strives to hear
The message of a sister sphere,
Yearning to reach the cosmic wires
That flash Infinity’s desires.

To be alive in such an age!
That blunders forth its discontent
With futile creed and sacrament,
Yet craves to utter God’s intent,
Seeing beneath the world’s unrest
Creation’s huge, untiring quest,
And through Tradition’s broken crust
The flame of Truth’s triumphant thrust;
Below the seething thought of amn
The push of a stupendous Plan.
O age of strife!
O age of life!
When Progress rides her chariots high,
And on the borders of the sky
The signals of the century
Proclaim the things that are to be—
The rise of woman to her place,
The coming of a nobler race.

To be alive in such an age—
To live in it,
To give to it!
Rise, soul, from thy despairing knees.
What if thy lips have drunk the lees?
Fling forth thy sorrows to the wind
And link thy hope with humankind—
The passion of a larger claim
Will put thy puny grief to shame.
Breathe the world thought, do the world deed,
Think hugely of thy brother’s need.
And what thy woe, and what thy weal?
Look to the work the times reveal!~
Give thanks with all thy flaming heart—
Crave but to have in it a part.
Give thanks and clasp thy heritage—
To be alive in such a age!

Collect for the Day
Your eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Your creatures. May the love for my art actuate me at all times; may neither avarice nor miserlienss, nor the thirst for glory or for a great reputation engage my mind, for the enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily deceive me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to Your children. May I never see in a patient anything but a fellow creature in pain. Grant me strength, time and opportunity always to correct what I have acquired, always to extend its domain, for knowledge is immense and the spirit of man can extend indefinitely to enrich itself daily with new requirements.

Today he can discover his errors of yesterday and tomorrow he may obtain new light on what he thinks himself sure of today.

O God, You have appointed me to watch over the life and death of Your creatures. Here I am, ready for my vocation.

[286 274:833 Maimonides, 1135-1204, The Medical Oath]


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