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

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Eternal Torments: IV Maccabees 10 with poem by John Milton, Satan's Pride

Daily Readings
Isaiah 48, III Maccabees 3, IV Maccabees 10, Luke 7

Daily Text: IV Maccabees 10

Eternal Torments
One of the elements in each of the speeches of the seven brothers is their condemnation of the tyrant to eternal torments. They are dying for their righteous adherence to the family and the Law of God, but the tyrant is building for himself a record of heinous deeds and eternal suffering. In contrast their willingness to suffer for the good will yield them the beneficence of God. The second and third brother in II Maccabees declare that they will get their lives back again, presumably in the resurrection. IV Maccabees has no such affirmation, however, it is perhaps implied as the opposite of the torments reserved for the tyrant.

The 4th verse of IV Maccabees 10 is missing in the text of the New Revised Standard Version, but other texts include it as follows: “So if you have any instrument of torture, apply it to my body; for you cannot touch my soul, even if you wish.” Eleazar in II Maccabees 6:30 suggests the same as does Matthew 10:28.

Satan’s Pride
from “Parasdise Lost,” Book IV
John Milton

Is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, ad my dread of shame
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
The Omnipotent. Ay me! they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan.
While they adore me on the throne of Hell,
With diadem and sceptre high advanced,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery: such joy ambition finds!
But say I could repent, and could obtain,
By act of grace, my former state; how soon
‘Would highth recal high thoughts, how soon unsay
What feigned submission swore! Ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and void
(For never can true reconcilement grow
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep);
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
Short intermission, bought with double smart.
This knows my Punisher; therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging, peace.
All hope excluded thus, behold, instead
Of us, outcast, exiled, his new delight,
Mankind, created, and for him this World!
So farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear,
Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my Good.

Collect for the Day
O Lord, my maker and protector, who has graciously sent me into this world, to work out my salvation, enable me to drive from me all such unquiet and perplexing thoughts as may mislead or hinder me in the practice of those duties which thou hast required. When I behold the works of thy hands and consider the course of thy providence, give me grace always to remember that thy thoughts are not my thoughts, nor thy ways my ways. And while it shall please thee to continue me in this world where much is to be done and little to be known, teach me by thy Holy Spirit to withdraw my mind from unprofitable and dangerous enquiries, from difficulties vainly curious and doubts impossible to be solved. Let me rejoice in the light which thou has imported, let me serve thee with active zeal and humble confidence, and wait with patient expectation for the time in which the soul which thou receivest shall be satisfied with knowledge. Grant this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ’s sake, amen.

[286:116:378 Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784]


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