October 31, 2016
Ecclesiasticus 38: 24-34
24 Leisure gives the scribe the chance to acquire wisdom; a man with few commitments can grow wise.
25 How can the ploughman become wise, whose sole ambition is to wield the goad, driving his oxen, engrossed in their work, his conversation limited to bullocks,
26 his thoughts absorbed in the furrows he traces and his long evenings spent in fattening heifers?
27 Similarly with all workmen and craftsmen, toiling day and night; those who engrave seals, for ever trying to think of a new design, concentrating on catching a good likeness and staying up late to get the work done.
28 Similarly with the blacksmith sitting by his anvil; he considers what to do with the pig-iron, the breath of the fire scorches his skin, as he contends with the heat of the furnace; the noise of the hammer deafens him, his eyes are fixed on the pattern; he concentrates on getting the job done well and stays up late to apply the finishing touches.
29 Similarly with the potter, sitting at his work, turning the wheel with his feet; constantly on the alert over his work, each flick of the finger premeditated;
30 he pummels the clay with his arm, and with his feet he kneads it; he concentrates on applying the glaze right and stays up late to clean the kiln.
31 All these people rely on their hands and each is skilled at his own craft.
32 A town could not be inhabited without them, there would be no settling, no travelling.
33 But you will not find them in the parliament, they do not hold high rank in the assembly. They do not sit on the judicial bench, and they do not meditate on the Law.
34 They are not remarkable for their culture or judgement, nor are they found frequenting the philosophers. They sustain the structure of the world, and their prayer is concerned with their trade.
November 1, 2016
2 Esdras 2:42-48
Revised Standard Version (RSV)
Ezra Sees the Son of God
42 I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude, which I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. 43 In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. 44 Then I asked an angel, “Who are these, my lord?” 45 He answered and said to me, “These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and they have confessed the name of God; now they are being crowned, and receive palms.” 46 Then I said to the angel, “Who is that young man who places crowns on them and puts palms in their hands?” 47 He answered and said to me, “He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.” So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord. 48 Then the angel said to me, “Go, tell my people how great and many are the wonders of the Lord God which you have seen.”
November 2, 2016
Ecclesiasticus 43: 23-33
23 By his own resourcefulness he has tamed the abyss, and planted it with islands.
24 Those who sail the sea tell of its dangers, their accounts fill our ears with amazement:
25 for there too exist strange and wonderful works, animals of every kind and huge sea creatures.
26 Thanks to God, his messenger reaches port, everything works out according to his word.
27 We could say much more and still fall short; to put it concisely, 'He is all.'
28 Where shall we find sufficient power to glorify him, since he is the Great One, above all his works,
29 the awe-inspiring Lord, stupendously great, and wonderful in his power?
31 Who has ever seen him to describe him? Who can glorify him as he deserves?
32 Many mysteries remain even greater than these, for we have seen only a few of his works,
November 3, 2016
Ecclus. 44: 1-15
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors in their successive generations.
2 The Lord has created an abundance of glory, and displayed his greatness from earliest times.
3 Some wielded authority as kings and were renowned for their strength; others were intelligent advisers and uttered prophetic sayings.
4 Others directed the people by their advice, by their understanding of the popular mind, and by the wise words of their teaching;
5 others composed musical melodies and set down ballads;
6 others were rich and powerful, living peacefully in their homes.
7 All these were honoured by their contemporaries and were the glory of their day.
8 Some of them left a name behind them, so that their praises are still sung.
9 While others have left no memory, and disappeared as though they had not existed. They are now as though they had never been, and so too, their children after them.
10 But here is a list of illustrious men whose good works have not been forgotten.
11 In their descendants they find a rich inheritance, their posterity.
12 Their descendants stand by the commandments and, thanks to them, so do their children's children.
14 Their bodies have been buried in peace, and their name lives on for all generations.
November 4, 2016
Ecclus. 50: 1; 11-24
12 when he received the portions from the hands of the priests, himself standing by the altar hearth, crowned with the circle of his brothers, as a cedar of Lebanon is by its foliage, as though surrounded by the trunks of palm trees.
15 He would reach out his hand to the cup and pour a libation of wine, pouring it at the foot of the altar, a fragrance pleasing to the Most High, King of All;
16 then the sons of Aaron would shout and blow their metal trumpets, making a mighty sound ring out as a reminder before the Most High;
18 and with the cantors chanting their hymns of praise. Sweet was the melody of all these voices,
20 Then he would come down and raise his hands over the whole assembly of the Israelites, to give them the Lord's blessing from his lips, being privileged to pronounce his name;
21 and once again the people would bow low to receive the blessing of the Most High.
22 And now bless the God of all things, the doer of great deeds everywhere, who has exalted our days from the womb and has acted mercifully towards us.
23 May he grant us cheerful hearts and bring peace in our time, in Israel for ages on ages.
24 May his mercy be faithfully with us, may he redeem us in our own times!
November 5, 2016
Ecclus. 51: 1-12
2 for you have been my guard and support and redeemed my body from destruction, from the snare of the lying tongue, from lips that fabricate falsehood; in the presence of my assailants, you were on my side; you have been my support, you have redeemed me,
3 true to your abounding kindness -- and the greatness of your name -- you liberated me from the fangs of those seeking to devour me, from the clutches of those seeking my life, from the many ordeals which I have endured,
4 from the stifling heat which hemmed me in, from the heart of a fire which I had not kindled,
5 from deep in the belly of Sheol,
7 I was completely surrounded, there was no one to help me; I looked for someone to help me, there was no one.
8 Then I remembered your mercy, Lord, and your deeds from earliest times, how you deliver those who wait for you patiently, and save them from the clutches of their enemies.
9 And I sent up my plea from the earth, I begged to be delivered from death.
10 I called on the Lord, the father of my Lord, 'Do not desert me in the days of ordeal, in the days of the proud, when we are helpless. I shall praise your name unceasingly and gratefully sing its praises.'
11 And my plea was heard, for you saved me from destruction, you delivered me from that time of evil.
12 And therefore I shall thank you and praise you, and bless the name of the Lord.