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

Friday, December 22, 2006

Leadership: Zechariah 11:4-17 with poem by Virginia Fraser Boyle, Abraham Lincoln

Daily Readings
Isaiah 59, I Maccabees 8, Zechariah 11:4-17, Luke 18

Daily Text: Zechariah 11:4-17

Leadership is the theme of Zechariah 11:4-17 and the leadership is not good. The prophet is asked to become a shepherd (leader) of a doomed people and does so. In an allegory in which the prophet represents the Lord, he hires on as a leader (shepherd) and then decides not to continue. Breaking his staff he demonstrates that the Lord has ended his relationship with Israel his people, allowing them to be doomed. The merchants who pay the shepherd's salary are given the option of doing so or not since he has broken his covenant to care for them. They do pay him and he throws the money into the Temple treasury and walks away. This is a clear and dramatic rejection of their hold over the people, and paying tribute to the spiritual source of Judah's life. As he does this he breaks his second staff which represents the tie between Judah and Israel. In a final stanza the Lord asks the prophet to take on the characteristics of a worthless shepherd and he does so taking advantage of the people himself, like a shepherd who lives high on the meat of the animals he is supposed to protect. This kind of dishonest shepherd is to be broken himself becoming lame and blind. This last image of leadership is so like what we see in our own time. Not much has changed through the centuries.

Abraham Lincoln
Virginia Fraser Boyle

No trumpet blared the word that he was born,
Nor lightning flashed its symbols on the day;
And only Poverty and Fate pressed on,
To serve as handmaids where he lowly lay.

No royal trappings fell to his rude part,
A simple hut and labor were its goal;
But Fate, stern-eyed, had held him to her heart,
And left a greatness on his rugged soul.

And up from earth and toil, he slowly won,
Pressed by a bitterness he proudly spurned,
Till by grim courage, born from sun to sun,
He turned defeat, as victory is turned.

Sired deep in destiny, he backward threw
The old heredities that men have known;
And round his gaunt and homely form he drew
The fierce white light that greatness makes its own.

Nor flame nor sword nor silver tongues availed
To turn his passion from its steady flow;
The compact of the Fathers had not failed:
He would not let an angered people go.

Collect for the Day
Grant us, O Lord, loyalty of heart,
that as we demand that others should be faithful to us,
we also may be faithful to them;
for Jesus Christ’s sake.



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