Saturday, June 26, 2010

Daily scripture commentary from Scepter Press

The following is today's first (mass) reading with commentary as it is in the Navarre Bible, published by Scepter Press. You may also receive these daily by subscribing to the Google Group "Daily Word". I have been receiving these daily by email since 1995 and recommend them unqualifiedly!

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To the Greater Glory of God)
For: Saturday, June 26, 2010
12th Week in Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Priest
Optional Memorial: Our Lady's Saturday
From: Lamentations 2:2, 10-14, 18-19
Second lament: Zion's misfortunes and their causes
[2] The Lord has destroyed without mercy
all the habitations of Jacob;
in his wrath he has broken down
the strongholds of the daughter of Judah:
he has brought down to the ground in dishonour
the kingdom and its rulers.

[10] The elders of the daughter of Zion
sit on the ground in silence;
they have cast dust on their heads
and put on sackcloth;
the maidens of Jerusalem
have bowed their heads to the ground.

[11] My eyes are spent with weeping;
my soul is in tumult:
my heart is poured out in grief
because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
because infants and babes faint
in the streets of the city.

[12] They cry to their mothers.
"Where is bread and wine?"
as they faint like wounded men
in the streets of the city.
as their life is poured out
on their mothers' bosom.

[13] What can I say for you, to what compare you,
O daughter of Jerusalem?
What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you,
O virgin daughter of Zion?
For vast as the sea is your ruin;
Who can restore you?

[14] Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
false and misleading.

[18] Cry aloud to the Lord!
O daughter of Zion!
Let tears stream down like a torrent
day and night!
Give yourself no rest,
your eyes no respite!

[19] Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the watches!
Pour out your heart like water
before the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint for hunger
at the head of every street.


2:1-22. The second lamentation begins and ends with explicit references to the main reason for all Zion's misfortunes -- the anger of God (vv 1 and 22), that is, his just indignation at the sins of the people. However, the main body of the poem is a meditation containing reflections on the prospects of conversion. St Thomas points out that there are two parts to the poem: "In the first part of the poem, the disgrace of the destruction is lamented (vv. 1-7); in the second part, the grace of God's mercy is implored" (Postilla super Threnos, 2).

The poem begins by describing the fall of Jerusalem (vv. 1-9). Using bold imagery, the author describes the defeat of the Jews and the destruction of the temple as something done not so much by the Chaldeans as by the Lord himself, who became "like an enemy" to Israel (v. 5), rejected the temple and its rites (vv. 6-7), and deprived the city of its defences (vv. 8-9). It then goes on to show the reader just how things were in the city at the time -- no law, no princes, no prophets (v. 9), no food (vv. 11-12), nothing but silence and weeping (vv. 10-11). Such being the scene, the inspired writer reproaches Jerusalem on a number of counts (vv. 13-19) -- the apathy of its prophets (v. 14), the city's failure to turn back to God; it has become the object of jeers and mockery. But it must not stay like that; it must be converted to the Lord, by making anguished prayer (vv. 18-19) -- prayer like that of the sacred writer (vv. 20-22) which stresses that Israel is still the Lord's chosen people.

Jerusalem's plight, then, is a punishment from God. Still, the severest reproach of all is that addressed to the prophets. The false prophets lulled the people into a false sense of security instead of calling them to conversion (v. 14); as Olympiodorus glosses the text, "they do not tell you the truth by which you would recognize your sins and repent [...]. On the contrary, they read you false prophecies and use vain arguments to drive you further from God" (Fragmenta in Lamentationes, 2, 14). On the other hand, the true word of God has been borne out: it is not surprising that v. 17 should be quoted when reminding Church pastors of their responsibilities: "The good pastor should know when to keep silent through discretion and when it is important to speak, so that he will never speak of what should not be said nor fail to speak when it must be said. As indiscreet speech can lead to sin; imprudent silence can leave those who were in need of teaching to wallow in their sin. It often happens that imprudent pastors are afraid to tell the truth openly because they fear that they will lose the respect of their people. The pastor who is afraid to tell his people the truth turns his back on them by his silence. He builds a wall for the house of Israel, to keep out those who would destroy the flock; but when the people have sinned, as is said else-where in Scripture: Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes (Lam 2:14)" (St Gregory the Great, Regula pastoralis, 2, 4).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

No comments:

Post a Comment