Lectionary Readings for Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023
Voice of Man
1. O Jehovih, what am I that I should supplicate Thee? Know I mine own weakness, or understand I the way of my thoughts? Thou hast placed before me most wonderful creations: They impress me, and my senses rise up in remembrance of the Almighty. Wherein have I invented one thought but by looking upon Thy works? How can I otherwise than remember my Creator, and out of Thy creations, O Jehovih, find rich food for meditation all the days of my life.
2. And yet, though I have appropriated the earth unto myself, I am not happy nor perfect withal. Misery and crime and selfishness are upon my people.
3. What is my weakness that I cannot overcome it? Or what is my strength that I succumb to the desires of the earth? I build up my belief and courage in Thee; but ere I know the way of my weakness, I stumble and fall. Am I made that I shall be forever a reproof to myself, and a censure to my own behavior?
4. How shall I say to this man or that: Be thou pure and holy, O man! Are not my flesh and blood proof that man cannot be without sin? O this corruptible self, this tendency to fall from the right way! Thou, O my Creator, hast proven before my senses every day of my life, that Thou alone art mighty in purity and truth.
5. O that I had a starting point wherefrom to estimate Thy wonderful decrees, or could find a road in which I should never stumble! But yet, O Jehovih, I will not complain because of the way of Thy works. Thou hast invented a limit to my understanding, whereby I am reminded of Thee, to call upon Thy name. I perceive my own vanity; that whereas were knowledge mine, I should become less beholding unto Thee!
6. What am I, O Jehovih, without Thee; or wherein shall I find the glory of Thy creations but by the light of Thy countenance? Thou broughtest me forth out of sin and darkness and clothed me in light. I behold the smallness of myself in Thy great works. Thou hast bound me to travel on the earth, to sojourn with beasts and all manner of creeping things; nor given me one attribute wherein I can boast over them, save in the power of destruction. The high firmament placed Thou above me; the stars and moon and sun! I know Thou hast been thither, but I am bound down in a little corner of Thy works! I have not power to rise up to Thy distant places, nor to know Thy extended heavens.
7. Nay, I have not power to shape my own size and stature; but all things take form and dimension whether I will or no. In Thine own way are built the walls of the world; by their magnitude am I confounded; by the majesty of Thy hand appalled. Why have I vainly set up myself as the highest of Thy works? My failures are worse than any other living creature under the sun. I cannot build my house in perfection like a bird’s; my ingenuity cannot fashion a spider’s net; I cannot sail up in the air like a bird, nor live in the water like the fish, nor dwell in harmony like the bee. The half of my offspring die in infancy; the multitude of my household are quarrelers, fighters, drunkards and beggars; the best of my sons and daughters are less faithful than a dog! I go forth to war, to slay my brother, even whilst Thy wide earth hath room for all. Yea, I curse the earth with starvation and sin and untimely death. O that I could school myself to boast not of my greatness; that I should be forever ashamed in Thy sight, Jehovih!
8. But I will make a clean breast of my iniquities; I can hide nothing from the eye of my Creator. Hear me then, O Father!
9. I took up arms against my brother. With great armies I encompassed him about to despoil him.
10. His widows and orphans I multiplied by the stroke of my sword; the cry of anguish that came out of their mouths I answered by the destruction of my brother’s harvests.
11. To my captains and generals who showed great skill in killing, I built monuments in stone and iron. Yea, I inscribed them from top to bottom with their bloody victories.
12. And in my vanity I called out to the young, saying: Behold the glory of great men! These great monuments I have built to them!
13. And the youth of my household were whetted with ambition for spoil. The example of my hand made them train themselves for warfare.
14. To my colonels and generals I gave badges of gold. I called to the damsels, saying: Come, a great honor I give to you; ye shall dance with the officers of death!
15. And they tripped up on tip-toe, elated by the honey of my words! O Jehovih, how have I not covered up my wickedness; how have I failed to make the flow of my brother’s blood the relish of satan!
16. To my destroying hosts I have given great honor and glory. In the pretense of enforcing peace I hewed my way in flesh and blood.
17. I made an igneous fatuous, a kingdom. I called out to my people, saying: We must have a kingdom. I showed them no reason for it; but I bade them take up arms and follow me for patriotism’s sake. And yet what was patriotism? Behold, I made it as something greater than Thee and Thy commandment: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
18. Yea, by the cunning of my words, I taught them my brother was my enemy; that to fall upon him and his people and destroy them was great patriotism.
19. And they ran at the sound of my voice, for my glory in the greatness of my kingdom, and they accomplished great havoc.
20. Yea, I built colleges for training my young men in warfare. I drew a boundary hither and thither, saying: This is my kingdom! All others are my enemies!
21. I patted my young men on the head, saying: Ye dogs of war! Great shall be your glory!
22. And their judgment was turned away from peace; I made them think that righteousness was to stand up for me and my country, and to destroy my brother and his people.
23. They built me forts and castles and arsenals without number. I called unto my people, saying: Come, behold the glory of my defenses which I built for you!
24. And they gave me money and garrisons, and ships of war, and torpedoes, shouting: Hurrah for our kingdom! We have faith in these things, but not in Thee, our Creator!
25. Thus I led them away from Thee. Their eyes I turned down in the way of death. By the might of my armies, I put away righteousness.
26. I covered the earth over with drunkards, and widows and orphans; to beggary I reduced them, but I whetted their pride by saying: Behold what great standing armies we have!
27. To the man that said: There shall come a time of peace, when war shall be no more forever, I mocked and said: Thou fool!
28. I know the counts against me, O Father. I cannot hide my iniquity from Thy sight. I have said war was a necessary evil to prevent a too populous world! I turned my back toward the wide, unsettled regions of the earth. With this falsehood in my mouth I stood up before Thee! Yea, I cried out as if for the righteous, saying: I war for righteousness, and for the protection of the weak! In the destruction of my brethren I stood as a murderer, pleading this excuse. Stubbornly I persisted in not seeing justice on the other side, whilst I cut down whom Thou hadst created alive. Above the works of Thy hand I raised myself up as a pruning knife in Thy vineyard.
29. Yea, more than this, I persuaded my sons and daughters that to war for me was to war for our Father in heaven. By my blasphemy led I them into ruin. And when the battle was over for a day I cried out: Behold the glory of them that were slain for the honor of their country! Thus have I added crime to crime before Thee, Jehovih; thus destroyed Thy beautiful creation. Verily, have I not one word in justification of my deeds before Thee!
30. O that I had remained faithful with Thee, Jehovih! But I invented Gods unto the glory of the evil one. In one place I called out to my sons and daughters, saying: Be ye Brahmins; Brahma saveth whosoever professeth his name. In another place I said: Be ye Buddhists; Buddha saveth whosoever calleth on his name. In another place I said: Be ye Christians; Christ saveth whosoever calleth on his name. In another place I said: Be ye Mohammedans; whosoever saith: There is but one God and Mohammed is his prophet! shall have indulgence without sin.
31. Thus have I divided the earth, O Jehovih! Into four great idolatries have I founded them, and into their hands put all manner of weapons of destruction; and they are become more terrible against one another than are the beasts of the forest. O that I could put away these great iniquities which I raised up as everlasting torments to the earth. Verily, there is no salvation in any of these.
32. Their people are forever destroying one another. They quarrel and kill for their respective religions; setting aside Thy commandment, Thou shalt not kill. They love their own nation and hate all others. They set aside Thy commandment, Love thy neighbor as thyself.
33. They preach and pray in sufficient truth; but not one of these people practiseth peace, love and virtue in any degree commensurate with their understanding. These religions have not saved from sin any nation or city on the whole earth.
34. In vain have I searched for a plan of redemption; a plan that would make the earth a paradise, and the life of man a glory unto Thee, and a joy unto himself. But alas, the two extremes, riches and poverty, have made the prospect of a millennium a thing of mockery.
35. For one man that is rich there are a thousand poor, and their interests are at an interminable conflict with one another. Labor crieth out in pain; but capital smiteth him with a heartless blow.
36. Nation is against nation; king against king; merchant against merchant; consumer against producer; yea, man against man, in all things upon the earth.
37. Because the state is rotten, the politician feedeth thereon; because society is rotten, the lawyer and court have riches and sumptuous feasts; because the flesh of my people is rotten, the physician findeth a harvest of comfort.
38. Now, O Jehovih, I come to Thee! Thou holdest the secret of peace and harmony and good will amongst mortals. Give me of Thy light, O Father! Show me the way of proceeding, that war and crime and poverty may come to an end. Open Thou the way of peace and love and virtue and truth, that Thy children may rejoice in their lives, and glorify Thee and Thy works forever.
39. Such is the voice of man, O Jehovih! In all the nations of the earth this voice riseth up to Thee! As Thou spakest to Zarathustra, and to Abraham and Moses, leading them forth out of darkness, O speak Thou, Jehovih!
40. Man hath faith in Thee only; Thou alone wast sufficient in the olden time: Today, Thou alone art sufficient unto Thine own creation. Speak Thou, O Jehovih!