Today is the Eve of All Saints. One of the appointed readings for today is taken from the Old Testament’s Book of Wisdom; the writer tells us:
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of others they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt-offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever. Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones, and he watches over his elect. (Wisdom 3: 1-9).
The Book of Wisdom in the Old Testament is considered to be “deuterocanonical”, literally meaning “a second canon.” The term dates back to the 16th century and the time of the Reformation to describe certain books and passages of the Christian Old Testament that are not part of the Hebrew Bible. The Episcopal Church in the United States includes these books in the lectionary.
The Book of Wisdom was written about a hundred years before the coming of Christ. Its author, whose name is not known to us, was a member of the Jewish community at Alexandria, in Egypt. He wrote in Greek, in a style patterned on that of Hebrew verse. At times he speaks in the person of Solomon, placing his teachings on the lips of the wise king of Hebrew tradition in order to emphasize their value. His profound knowledge of the earlier Old Testament writings is reflected in almost every line of the book, and marks him, like Ben Sira, as an outstanding representative of religious devotion and learning among the sages of postexilic Judaism.
The primary purpose of the sacred author was the edification of his co-religionists in a time when they had experienced suffering and oppression, in part at least at the hands of apostate fellow Jews. To convey his message he made use of the most popular religious themes of his time, namely the splendor and worth of divine wisdom (Wisdom 6:22-11:1), the glorious events of the Exodus (Wisdom 11:2-16; 12:23-27; 15:18 19:22), God's mercy (Wisdom 11:17-12:22), the folly of idolatry (Wisdom 13:1-15:17), and the manner in which God's justice is vindicated in rewarding or punishing the individual soul (Wisdom 1:1-6:21).
The first ten chapters especially form a preparation for the fuller teachings of Christ and his Church. We see that in today’s reading where the author acknowledges the fact that the souls of the righteous, all of those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, are in God’s hands. Indeed what Jesus Christ did on that Good Friday on the cross and in His glorious resurrection on Sunday transcends time and space. Jesus not only died for those who came after him, but for all of those who came before him as well. Jesus’ sacrifice was the one perfect oblation for the whole world and for all time.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Time to fall back! Remember to turn your clocks back one hour this Saturday night.
Please pray for all of the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Next Sunday is All Saints. We will read the names of all of those who have left us marked with the sign of faith.
We will have a Community Garden work day on the 3rd and the 10thof November. There will also be a pot luck lunch meeting on the 3rdof November.
Please remember everyone on our Prayer List, especially the family of Charles F. Doyle, the father of Bishop C. Andrew Doyle, who died on the 27th of October, Steve Poirier who died on Tuesday, everyone who is will, all those who are seeking employment and everyone who has no one to pray for them.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Chester J. Makowski+St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550