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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Feelings Like His Own: IV Maccabees 12 with reading by William Shakespeare, Hath Not a Jew Eyes?

Daily Readings
Isaiah 50, III Maccabees 5, IV Maccabees 12, Luke 9

Daily Text: IV Maccabees 12

Feelings Like His Own
Our author heightens the dramatic tension of the death of the 7th brother in IV Maccabees 12 by eliciting the sympathy of the king, the youth of the brother, and the apparent advice of the mother that he succumb to the kings blandishments (cf. 462:206). The mother speaks in Hebrew to her son, obviously a language unknown by the king, and immediately after speaking to him, the boy requests that he be freed of his fetters in order that he may speak to the king and his friends. Once free, however, he runs to the fires and from there makes his speech condemning the king’s actions with words of human sympathy. That is, he confronts the king with the obvious, that the men whose tongues he has cut out has feelings like his own, hopes, fear, dreams like his own. He curses the king to punishment ‘both in the present life and when (he is) dead.’ And then he takes his own life in the braziers and cheats the king and his henchmen of further torture.

Hath Not A Jew Eyes?
from The Merchant of Venice, III.i. 63
William Shakespeare

Hath not a Jew eyes?
hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses,
affections, passions?
fed with the same food,
hurt with the same weapons,
subject to the same diseases,
healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled
by the same winter and summer,
as a Christian is?
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh?
if you poison us, do we not die?
and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

Collect for the Day
In these dark days when negation has so deeply entered into thought,
and the futility of life oppresses man souls,
when belief and unbelief appear indifferent
and what is left
is natural passion to express the pride of life,
or the empty void of nothingness
when the nerve to live and to create is weakened and suicides increase—
O Lord, forgive the failures of your Church to witness to the world
that justice should run down as water
and righteousness a mighty stream,
O Lord, forgive the failure of the Christian life
that lives so worldly
that few can see the life of Spirit
that must proclaim the kingdom of God’s love
to glorify his Name.

[286:108:353 Fr. Gilbert Shaw, 1886-1967]


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