What we’re doing on this blog on Mondays is looking back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying, and list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.
Last week: 2 Kings 23-25, Judith 4, 8, 9-10, Acts 13-16, Isaiah 23-29, Mark 15-16, Luke 1-2
This week: Judith 11-16, Ecclus. (Sirach) 1, Acts 17-20:16, Isaiah 30-36, Luke 3-6:19
The story of Judith is in full swing now – the rising action, or set-up, has taken its place, and now we see our heroine in action. For those who are new to this story, it is almost certainly a work of pious fiction, like a parable. Its historical features jumble together several different conflicting markers of time: the Assyrian army, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Second Temple in Jerusalem… if there is a true story at the root of this book, it’s indiscernible from the fanciful elaborations that surround it. And therefore, unlike the Old Testament books we normally consider “historical”, we have to ignore any attempt to connect the story of Judith to the rest of established history. Instead it should be read on its own terms, as a story unto itself, and be appreciated (and learned from) on its own merits. Look at the faithfulness of Judith, her piety, her means of devotion to God. See in her heroism echoes of Rahab and Jael and Deborah. From the way she is praise, in contrast to the faltering faith of her brethren in Bethulia, we can learn about what virtues were particularly valued in Second Temple Judaism and how they understood the Law of Moses – that outward visible sense of piety is really developing here, which would be “perfected” into hypocrisy with the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. And in the villains we see pictures of sinners: filled with pride, caught up with Judith’s beauty, and dismissive of the power of God.
This is the week of Proper 28 (or 22nd after Trinity in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday. Otherwise, we recommend…
- Monday 11/18 = St. Elizabeth of Hungary (renewer of society) or Votive*
- Tuesday 11/19 = St. Hilda of Whitby (abbess) or Votive
- Wednesday 11/20 = St. Edmund or Votive
- Thursday 11/21 = Votive
- Friday 11/22 = St. Cecilia (martyr) or Votive
- Saturday 11/23 = St. Clement (bishop & martyr)
* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019). The traditional appointments are Holy Trinity on Sunday, Holy Spirit on Monday, Holy Angels on Tuesday, of the Incarnation on Wednesdays, of the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays, the Holy Cross on Fridays, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturdays.