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 05, 2006

Live to God: IV Maccabees 7 with poem by St. John of the Cross, Songs of the Soul

Daily Readings
Isaiah 46, Daniel 10:1-11:1, IV Maccabees 7, Luke 1

Daily Text: IV Maccabees 7

Live to God
This author is persistent. He writes an ode to Eleazar and then concludes chapter 7 with a summarizing discourse on the sovereignty of pious reason over the emotions. The ode is prefaced by two metaphors. One of the metaphors is of the sea with a ship, waves, storms and through it all a steady hand on the tiller. Another metaphor suggests that Eleazar is like a city under siege, but in spite of the tortures and racks he conquers his besiegers with the shield of pious reason. The ode itself soars with praise for Eleazar’s worthiness, his endurance and above all his example for the congregation.

In the discourse, verses 16-23, the author uses the phrase ‘live to God’, a phrase that is common in Paul’s writing, e.g. Romans 6:10. Here are seeds of resurrection teaching, that may or may not have been influenced by Christian theology. This discourse introduces in a new and explicit way that reason dominating emotion is only possible in the one who lives his life toward God with integrity.

Songs of the Soul in Intimate
Communication and Union with
the Love of God
St. John of the Cross
Transl. from the Spanish by Roy Campbell

Oh flame of love so living,
How tenderly you force
To my soul’s inmost core your fiery probe!
Since now you’ve no misgiving,
End it, pursue your course
And for our sweet encounter tear the robe!

Oh cautery most tender!
Oh gash that is my guerdon!
Oh gentle hand! Oh touch how softly thrilling!
Eternal life you render,
Raise of all debts the burden
And change my death to life, even while killing!

Oh lamps of fiery blaze
To whose refulgent fuel
The deepest caverns of my soul grow bright,
Late blind with gloom and haze,
But in this strange renewal
Giving to the belov’d both heat and light.

What peace, with love enwreathing,
You conjure to my breast
Which only you your dwelling place may call:
While with delicious breathings
In glory, grace, and rest,
So daintily in love you make me fall!

Collect for the Day
Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praises; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee.

[286:64:173 St. Augustine, 354-450]


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