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

Monday, December 04, 2006

Vicarious Expiation Requested: IV Maccabees 6 with poem by Edmund Spenser, Easter Morning

Daily Readings
Isaiah 45, Daniel 9, IV Maccabees 6, ` Revelation 22

Daily Text: IV Maccabees 6

Vicarious Expiation Requested
Several plays on words occur in IV Maccabees 6 as the soldiers ready Eleazar for torture and death. The first is that though they strip him, his piety gracefully clothes him. Again, as they flog him and he falls, his reason remains upright! Our author never forsakes his thesis.

When he raises his eyes to heaven he assumes the classic martyrs attitude [462:177]. Obviously, this is meant to signify prayer. The metaphor of the athlete of virtue is evidently a favorite one of the Stoics [462:178], and in his denial of the cessation of torture by play-acting in the matter of eating pork, the old priest asserts the importance of living with integrity all the way to death. In a final prayer he begs God to allow his death to suffice for the people. In this request for vicarious expiation, Eleazar asks that his blood purify others and that God take his life in exchange for theirs. Such a notion is first expressed in Isaiah 53:5-12, and is seen again, of course, in the Gospels.

Easter Morning
Edmund Spenser

Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin,
And, having harrowed hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win;
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we, for whom thou didst die,
Being with thy dear blood clean washed from sin,
May live forever in felicity:
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again:
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought;
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

Collect for the Day
Lord Jesus Christ, king of glory, Son of the living God, who for sinners gave your body over into the hands of enemies, and deigned to surrender yourself to death, I implore you in your pity mercifully to rescue me from the hands of all my enemies, by your glorious body which we here adore in the form of bread, by your blood through which today the world is sanctified. And I beg too, O Lord, that I and all my friends and my enemies and all Christians, at the separation of body and soul, may be led through true faith into eternal life.

[286:157:521 Latin, 14th century, tr. Edmund Colledge]


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