11/03/2008

dart about as sparks

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble
;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.


This was Sunday's second reading from the Book of Wisdom. That line caught my attention: "they shall dart about as sparks". I have a clear image of the embers from our bonfire on the Eve of All Hallows. But is that what was meant by 'stubble'? Are we referring in fact to burning cinders or smoldering embers?

Here is that same verse [Wisdom 3:7] in the Douay translation:

1 But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.
2 In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery:
3 And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace.
4 And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality.
5 Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself.
6 As gold in the furnace, he hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust, he hath received them, and in time there shall be respect had to them.
7 The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds.
8 They shall judge nations, and rule over people, and their Lord shall reign for ever.
9 They that trust in him shall understand the truth: and they that are faithful in love, shall rest in him: for grace and peace are to his elect.

To what does this refer? Are we to imagine a wildfire spreading, the sparks catching dry reeds and igniting them? Is this an image of the Just darting about to cause the ruin of the Wicked, or have the Just inspired their conversion by the Holy Spirit?

Here's the Latin Vulgate:

7 et in tempore visitationis illorum fulgebunt et tamquam scintillae in arundineto discurrent

and the Stuttgart Vulgate translation:

7 fulgebunt et tamquam scintillae in harundineto discurrent

What do we make of (h)arundineto?

Lewis & Short renders as follows:
hărundĭnētum (ar- ), i, n. [harundo, II.] , I. a thicket or jungle of reeds

Thus..."they shall dart to and fro like sparks in a thicket at the time of their visitation"...so something like when you're trying to get the kindling lit-- or when undergrowth catches fire in a dry meadow...but what is meant by Visitation??? The time when respect shall be had to them? What does that mean? When we see God face-to-face?

The Just/Righteous shall dart about like sparks-- such a fascinating image!
I am intrigued.

Are we floating like butterflies and stinging like bees? Are we starting some great activist revolution? Are we cleaning house? Is this a vision of purgatory? Will we indeed like Christ become radiant as the sun? Are these the impurities burning away? Are we shining and snap/crackle/popping on the day we visit God?

Another image that springs to mind comes from Disney's Beauty & the Beast, when the arrogant prince, now transformed by selfless love, rises and spins and unfurls his glorious self and sparks fly as he is transfigured before Belle's wondering eyes.Either way you cut it, what we're dealing with is a purging, proving, finding worthy, rendering holy, a conflagration of the Holy Spirit. To be JUST is to do RIGHT, to do as God wills, to be conformed utterly. And then we will shine like Christ. We will be placed upon the lampstand. We will cause others to catch the spark!

Let us pray for grace in the time of chastisement~

2 comments:

Amy said...

Very well said and thought out...I especially like the B&B comment. :)

Anonymous said...

it is actual phenomena,I've seen it.
They visit, they shine and dart about very playfully.

Thank you who ever wrote this blog, I've just discovered this passage and it really means a lot to me.
Please pray for Laura Thomas
1984-2008

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