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

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Earth Renewed: II Esdras 7:45-101 with poem by James Montgomery, Well Done

Daily Readings
Psalm 136, Esther 2 [Apoc.], II Esdras 7:45-101, Revelation 5

Daily Text: II Esdras 7:45-101

The Earth Renewed
Ezra here begins to realize the implications of the final judgement for humankind. Only a few will be saved, while almost everyone who ever lived will be lost to final torment. Since the judgement was created by God before the earth, Ezra suggests that it might have been better if humankind had never been created. Uriel does not seem concerned at all. Precious in the eyes of the Lord are those who have served him faithfully. Like precious metals, gold, silver and bronze, their rarity creates the notion that they are precious. Iron, lead and clay, on the other hand, are so available that they are not prized. So it is with the righteous and the unrighteous. While God is imminently patient during a human being’s life, that patience will be reflected not at all in the judgment. Humankind makes up its own mind as to what it will do with the Torah and the reality of God during his or her lifetime. There is a suggestion here that both the present world and the world to come were created for the exercise of righteousness. That most ignore it and choose otherwise changes not the intent one whit. In that sense the righteous are the triumphant ones even in this world.

The world to come is not another world, it is this one renewed. The judgement separates the ‘two,’ for during the period of time after the last human dies and the judgment, the earth is to be renewed. During that time this passage details the torments of the wicked and the delights of the righteous, a series of psychological torments and delights, that have little or nothing to do with outer darkness, fire or isolation, but much to do with the realization and anticipation of loss and benefit. Such does not make either less helpful than some other characterization; they are sufficient. These descriptions in II Esdras 7:45-101 help make clear the background of Jewish-Christian expectations in the first century A.D.

Well Done
James Montgomery

1771-1854

Servant of God, well done!
Rest from thy loved employ:
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master’s joy.
The pains of death are past,
Labour and sorrow cease,
And Life’s long warfare closed t last,
Thy soul is found in peace.
407:1872

Collect for the Day
Maker and Sustainer of all things, Source of all life and goodness, help us always to love and serve one another, and to worship you with joy and gladness, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[476:894:136 Psalm prayer]

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