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

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Turn-around: Acts 9:1-31 with poem by W. S. Di Piero, Near Damascus

Daily Readings
Psalm 9, Genesis 10, Isaiah 10:33-11:16, Acts 9:1-31

Daily Text: Acts 9:1-31

Whatever it was that galvanized Paul around the death of Stephen to lead the challenge against the Christians, that motivation carried him from Jerusalem to Damascus. But on the road near that city, he was arrested by a great light and a dialogue with Jesus. His conversion was instantaneous, and his baptism and instruction followed quickly in Damascus. Without hesitation he begins championing the cause he was previously persecuting. This was a passionate, quickly deciding individual. Even before the ink was dry on his letters to the synagogues, he was there proclaiming the Jesus he had come to persecute.

It sounds in Acts like he stayed in Damascus a few days and then headed right back to Jerusalem. Galatians 1:15-20, however, asserts that he did not go up to Jerusalem until three years later. Lacking better information, we must suppose that he knew in Galatians the chronology of his own travels. He may have stayed right there in Damascus, after a brief sojourn in Arabia, for the three years.

While his conversion was radical, involving a complete turn-around, the commitment required is that expected of all Christians. God grant us all the wisdom to receive God’s call and God’s gifts so readily that we too will be immediately serving in Christ’s name.

Near Damascus
W. S. Di Piero

The antlered scarab rolled a dungball
for its brood; a red ant, tipsy,
bulldozed a flinty wedge of chaff.
Mud slots from the recent rain,
now crusted over by the heat—
moon mountains seen close up; my mouth
plugged with road grit and surprise
just when I tried to shout no
to the blunt lightning spike that stopped me…

In the mountains of the moon I saw
a wasp dragging a grasshopper
to a frothing nest, grubs lingering
through their episode, and larvae
I’d have chewed like honeycomb
if it would have saved my sight.
Antaeus inhaled force from dirt;
he was luckier, never much
for visions, and too far gone.

In my head, I see this body
dumped flat. Painted in above,
the horse twists and straddles me,
his eyes flare, ecstatic, new,
contemptuous of the thing that fell,
while the light-shaft curries his flank
and nails me down, the unloved me,
rousted, found out, blasted, saved
down in the road’s pearly filth.


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