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, November 16, 2006

Adam's Sin: II Esdras 6:35-7:44 with poem by Geoffrey Hill, Genesis

Daily Readings
Psalm 135, Esther 1 [Apoc.] Addition A, II Esdras 6.35-7.44, Revelation 4

Daily Text: II Esdras 6.35-7.44

Adam’s Sin
After his preparation and aroused distress, Ezra in II Esdras 6:35-7:44, begins anew to question the Archangel Uriel, who speaks for God.

Ezra: You created the world, and you did so for Israel. Why has Israel not received the world as his inheritance?

Uriel: Ezra, why do you focus only on the present? Can you not see the promise of the world to come when the righteous shall be rewarded and the wicked punished? The difficulty in the present world has been made necessary by Adam’s sin and that of every other human being.

The Messianic kingdom and the end of the world will one day be revealed. My son the Messiah will then also be revealed with all who are with him. They shall rejoice 400 years. After that the Messiah will die as will all who draw human breath. The world will retreat to primeval silence for seven days, after which the world not yet awake shall be roused, the righteous to life and the corruptible to death. Compassion will no longer be available. Judgement will occur by the standard of truth alone. Paradise and hell shall be disclosed and the nations will see and understand in the light of the glory of the Most High. You alone, Ezra, are being shown these things.

Geoffrey Hill

Against the burly air I strode
Crying the miracles of God.

And first I brought the sea to bear
Upon the dead weight of the land;
And the waves flourished at my prayer,
The rivers spawned their sand.

And where the streams were salt and full
The tough pig-headed salmon strove,
Ramming the ebb, in the tide’s pull,
To reach the steady hills above.

The second day I stood and saw
The osprey plunge with triggered claw,
Feathering blood along the shore,
To lay the living sinew bare.

And the third day I cried: “Beware
The soft-voiced owl, the ferret’s smile,
The hawk’s deliberate stoop in air,
Cold eyes, and bodies hooped in steel,
Forever bent upon the kill.”

And I renounced, on the fourth day,
This fierce and unregenerate clay,
Building as a huge myth for man
The watery Leviathan,

And made the long-winged albatross
Scour the ashes of the sea
Where Capricorn and Zero cross,
A brooding immortality—
Such as the charmed phoenix has
In the unwithering tree

The phoenix burns as cold as frost;
And, like a legendary ghost,
The phantom-bird goes wild and lost,
Upon a pointless ocean tossed.

So, the fifth day, I turned again
To flesh and blood and the blood’s pain.

On the sixth day, as I rode
In haste about the works of God,
With spurs I plucked the horse’s blood.

By blood we live, the hot, the cold,
To ravage and redeem the world:
There is no bloodless myth will hold.

And by Christ’s blood are men made free
Though in close shrouds their bodies lie
Under the rough pelt of the sea;

Though Earth has rolled beneath her weight
The bones that cannot bear the light.

Collect for the Day
God of freedom, you brought your people out of slavery with a mighty hand and gave them a law of love and justice. Deliver us from every temptation to be satisfied with false imitations of your will: with talk of peace that masks the face of war, and thanks for plenty that leaves the poor unfed. We pray for the coming of your kingdom, founded in Jesus Christ our Lord.

[476:893:135 Psalm prayer]


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