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 17, 2006

Five Metaphors: IV Maccabees 17 with poem by Robert Browing, Religion

Daily Readings
Isaiah 56, I Maccabees 3, IV Maccabees 17, Luke 17

Daily Text: IV Maccabees 17

Five Metaphors
IV Maccabees 17 is in praise of the martyrs and five metaphors are used to flesh out this encomium. The first is that of architecture, the mother being a roof set on the seven pillars of her son’s lives. The second is that of painting, a mural of the Hebrew religion including the facts of the martyrs. The third is a funerary inscription marking the exploits of the martyrs, and the fourth is an athletic contest. As athletes the martyrs are contestants, Antiochus, the tyrant, an adversary, and the world and the human race were spectators. The prize was immortality. There is a fifth metaphor, that of religious sacrifice. In this metaphor the martyr’s effectively purified their nation by their sacrifice becoming a ransom for the sin of the nation and an atoning sacrifice. So great was their honor that the antagonist used their courage and indomitability as examples for his own troops and they were strengthened by them, not against the Hebrews, but against their true enemies.

from “Mr. Sludge, ‘The Medium’”
Robert Browning, 1812-1889

Religion’s all or nothing; it’s no mere smile
O’ contentment, sigh of aspiration, sir—
No quality o’ the finelier-tempered clay
Like its whiteness or its lightness; rather, stuff
O’ the very stuff, life of life, and self of self.

Collect for the Day
O God, I know that if I do not love thee with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul and with all my strength, I shall love something else with all my heart and mind and soul and strength. Grant that putting thee first in all my lovings I may be liberated from all lesser loves and loyalties, and have thee as my first love, my chiefest good and my final joy.

[286:81:238 George Appleton]


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