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

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Willing Martyr: IV Maccabees 13 with poem by Xenophon, from Cyropedia

Daily Readings
Isaiah 51, III Maccabees 6, IV Maccabees 13, Luke 10

Daily Text: IV Maccabees 13

Willing Martyr
IV Maccabees 13 begins the application of the emotional examples of the brothers’ martyrdom, which illustrated the supremacy of reason. Fascinating that the examples of reason over emotions are in themselves so emotional!

The reference to the three Hebrew children in vs. 9 is appropriate because it is generally thought that Daniel was written out of the same political impetus that spawned IV Maccabees [462:211]. The reference to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in vs. 17 is even more fascinating. Hadas writes: “If Daniel and his companions offer the closest parallel to our martyrs, especially in the use of fire, Isaac as a patriarch remains the primal pattern of the willing martyr.” [462:211]. Seldom has the Church considered Isaac as a martyr; rather it has wrestled with Abraham’s felicidal act. The martyrdom of the seven brothers brings all of this into fresh focus, while at the same time suggesting the ‘armor’ of God as their divine protection (cf. Ephesians 6:11, 13-18)..

from Cyropedia

Those who are sprung from the same seed,
nursed by the same mother,
reared in the same home,
loved by the same parents…
how are they not the closest of all?”

Collect for the Day
Blessed are all thy Saints, O God and King, who have travelled over the tempestuous sea of this mortal life, and have made the harbour of peace and felicity. Watch over us who are still in our dangerous voyage; and remember such as lie exposed to the rough storms of trouble and temptations. Frail is our vessel, and the ocean is wide; but as in thy mercy thou hast set our course, so steer the vessel of our life toward the everlasting shore of peace, and bring us at length to the quiet haven of our heart’s desire, where thou, O our God, are blessed, an livest and reignest for ever and ever.

[286:123:413 St. Augustine, 354-430]


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