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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Demise of the Bad Shepherds: Zechariah 10:2-11:3 with poem by Matthew Arnold, The Good Shepherd with the Kid

Daily Readings
Isaiah 58, I Maccabees 6, Zechariah 10:2-11:3, Luke 17

Daily Text: Zechariah 10:2-11:3

Demise of the Bad Shepherds
This passage, Zechariah 10:2-11:3, has two poems; the first, 2-3a, is against the false leaders of the people, while the second, goes back to the victory theme of chapter 9 and rejoices in the deliverance first of Judah and then of Ephraim, called Joseph here.

The people go in a wrong direction because their leaders consult false sources of direction. Today we would probably ignore all outside sources of guidance and try to rely on ourselves [529:171]. Because of such misdirected leadership, the people wander without leadership and God’s anger is directed at those leaders.

Immediately, in 3b the theme changes to God’s care for Judah and how he will bless her as if a proud army. This second poem is in two stanzas, 3b-8 and 9-12. The first stanza begins with Judah and her new leadership, transitions in verse 6 and ends with Israel’s return from exile. In both cases vs. 6 and vs. 12 projects a strengthening of these two tribal entities of God’s people.

A short poem, 11:1-3 concludes this section with reference to alien nations whose leadership likewise has been inadequate and therefore they are despoiled. Like lions whose habitat has been destroyed, these nations go on a rampage of disordered violence.

The Good Shepherd with the Kid
Matthew Arnold

He saves the sheep, the goats he doth not save.
So rang Tertullian’s sentence, on the side
Of that unpitying Phrygian sect which cried:
“Him can no fount of fresh forgiveness lave,
Who sins, once washed by the baptismal wave.”
So spake the fierce Tertullian. But she sighed,
The infant Church! of love she felt the tide
Stream on her from her Lord’s yet recent grave.

And then she smiled; and in the Catacombs,
With eye suffused but heart inspired true,
On those walls subterranean, where she hid
Her head ‘mid ignominy, death, and tombs,
She her Good Shepherd’s hasty image drew—
And on his shoulders, not a lamb, a kid.
542:IV:2088

Collect for the Day
Heavenly Father,
your light overcomes darkness;
take everything in my life that is dark
and transform it into glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[475:195:383]

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