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, October 02, 2006

Extra-biblical Sources: II Chronicles 26 with poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

Daily Readings
Sirach 21, II Kings 15, II Chronicles 26, Jeremiah 34

Daily Text: II Chronicles 26

Extra-biblical Sources
Fifty-two years is a long time to reign, even though twenty of those years may have been as co-regent with his father, Amaziah, and ten years with his son, Jotham. Archaeological finds corroborate strong progress in agricultural development including cisterns and well-developed drainage channels [525:152]. Like his grandfather Joash, Uzziah chooses as mentor one Zechariah and from him learns the fear of the LORD. Could this have been the son of one of Jehoiada or Zechariah’s descendants? In his early years, Uzziah was a strong and good king, though at the height of his powers the Chronicler notes that pride becomes the source of his downfall. Generally, that seems to be an attempt on his part to take on the role of priest as well as king. Coming up against a strong high priest, who was not afraid to confront him with strength (he brought in 80 other priests of valor to back him up), Uzziah quickly faltered. At first he resisted Azariah, but his forehead broke out in some telltale skin disease when he did and the priest immediately gained the psychological advantage necessary to both get him out of the temple and into a house that curtailed his freedom for the rest of his life. His son Jotham, for all practical purposes, took over the reins of government.

II Chronicles 26 is perhaps the best evidence in Scripture for the existence of written records at the hands of known prophets—Isaiah is named in verse 22. These sources were undoubtedly the ones used by the Chronicler whenever he departed from the record of the Book of the Kings. Through the use of these extra-biblical sources he becomes an invaluable additional resource for our knowledge of the times.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that the sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear—
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Collect for the Day
And give me, good Lord, an humble, lowly, quiet, peaceable, patient, charitable, kind and filial and tender mind, every shade, in fact, of charity, with all my words and all my works, and all my thoughts, to have a taste of thy holy blessed Spirit.

[286:123:411 St. Thomas More, 1478-1535]

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Not With A True Heart: II Chronicles 25 with poem by Kabir, If Thy soul is a Stranger to Thee

Daily Readings
Sirach 20, II Kings 14, II Chronicles 25, Jeremiah 33

Daily Text: II Chronicles 25

Not With a True Heart
The line between ‘doing right’ and doing so ‘with a true heart’ is in Amaziah’s case, in II Chronicles 25, a blurred one. Perhaps he did what was ‘right’ for a Judean king in popular culture, but not with a true heart. It was evidently that this was so early on, for he made fatal errors from the beginning. Examples are those of the Ephramite mercenaries, killing his fathers conspirators, executing as many Edomites as were slain in the Valley of Salt, and embracing the gods of his defeated enemy. Piqued by the marauding of the Ephramites while he is in Seir, Amaziah challenged his more powerful Israelite neighbor. Joash obviously had no desire to fight with him. In fact he uses an amusing story to discourage Amaziah. He speaks of the thorn bush that wants to marry his daughter to the son of the lordly cedar. The implication is obvious. Amaziah is a thorny scrub to be smashed by any wandering animal. Affronted, Amaziah insists and meets Israel’s army at Beth-shemesh within Judah’s borders. Nations that intend to win battles do not fight within their own borders if they can avoid it. Evidently, once he had provoked Joash into meeting him ‘face to face’, Amaziah dawdled, while Joash lost no time in mobilizing the troops necessary to defeat his overconfident opponent. Amaziah was captured, Jerusalem was savaged and looted. Although the king survived to rule for many years, he did not survive the conspiracy that grew up around him ready to avenge his departure from the faith of his fathers.

If Thy Soul is a Stranger to Thee

Translated from the Hindi by Rabindranath Tagore and revised by Robert Bridges

I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty.
Perceivest thou not how the god is in thine own house,
that thou wanderest from forest to forest so listlessly?
In thy home is the Truth. Go where thou wilt, to Benares
or to Mathura;
if thy soul is a stranger to thee, the whole world is

Collect for the Day
Help us to return, our Maker, to Your Torah; draw us near, O Sovereign God, to Your service; and bring us back into Your presence in perfect repentance.