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, November 07, 2006

O Praise Him: Judith 13:10b-20 with poem by James Montgomery, Sonnet

Daily Readings
Sirach 51, Nehemiah 12:27-47, Judith 13:10b-20, II John

Daily Text: Judith 13:10b-20

O Praise Him
Reminiscent of Elizabeth’s words to Mary in Luke 3, Uzziah the elder in Bethulia says essentially, “Blessed are you among women” in addressing Judith upon her return. Even more exciting than the adulation of her people, is Judith’s ringing declaration as she approaches the gates of the city with Holofernes’ head in the food bag. Those words were, “Open, open the gate! God, our God, is with us, still showing his power in Israel and his strength against our enemies, as he has done today! [13:11] It is that recognition that we need to raise up in our daily lives, in the lives of the continuing people of God. We want and need to recognize that our God continues to demonstrate his love and his power in our lives. The Israelites had essentially forgotten that God could and would defend them until Judith stepped out on faith, even risking her life, to follow YHWH. She is a living reminder to them that God continues alive and well. And she can be a living reminder to us as well. When by faith we expect God to work, and by faith we step out in radical obedience of his leading in the smallest of matters, he will see us through and lead us on to matters not small at all. Expectation, faith, obedience and praise are thus intimately connected. Then we can say with Judith, “Praise God, O praise him! Praise God, who has not withdrawn his mercy from the house of Israel”, but has accomplished our prayers by our hand this very night!

Sonnet
On Judith Returning To Bethulia
With The Head of Holofernes In Her Hand
James Montgomery
, 1771-1854
from the Italian of Giovanni Battista, Felice Zappi, 1667-1719

She held the head all-horrible with gore;
Nor of the woman in that act was seen
Aught save the alluring locks and beauteous mien:
“Hail, heroine, hail!” all voices cried before.

At the glad news, the damsels came with speed;
Some kissed her feet and some her garment’s hem,
None her right-hand, for terrible to them
Was the remembrance of that fatal deed.

A hundred prophets sang the matron’s fame;
“Fly round the world, thine everlasting name!
The sun through all his march shall tell thy story.”
Great from that dread achievement though she rose,
Greater she stood at this triumphant close,
For she was humble in the height of glory.
411:448

Collect for the Day
Almighty God, by whose grace thy people gain courage through looking unto the heroes of faith: We lift our hearts in gratitude to thee for all who have lived valiantly and died bravely that there might be truth, liberty, and righteousness in our land. Help us to prize highly, and to guard carefully, the gifts which their loyalty and devotion have bestowed upon us. Grant us the joy of a living and vigorous faith, that we may be true as they were true, loyal as they were loyal, and serve thee and our country selflessly all the days of our life, and at last receive the victor’s crown; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[504:126:C]

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