Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Sirach [Ecclesiasticus] 23 and Acts 11

Sirach 23 – God is addressed as “Lord, father and master of my life. . .” (23:1). 

“Do not habituate your mouth to coarseness and foul language, for this means sinful talk. Remember your father and mother when you are sitting among princes, in case you forget yourself in their presence, and behave like a fool, and then wish you had not been born, and curse the day of your birth” (23:13-14).

“The man who sins against his own marriage bed. . .does not realize that the eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, observing every aspect of human behavior, seeing into the most secret corners. All things were known to him before they were created, and are still, now that they are finished” (23:18-20).

Acts 11 – The Christians of Judaea learn that pagan Gentiles too are being converted, so when Peter returns, they challenge him on the propriety of his visiting and eating with gentiles. He tells them of the vision he had of that made clear to him that God did not divide the world between clean and unclean, “chosen people” and rejects.

The narrative returns at this point to Antioch – last seen in chapter 8 when Stephen was martyred and the church suffered a severe persecution.  The survivors went to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch where they converted good numbers of Hellenists. Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch to check on them. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Paul; they returned together to Antioch where they spent a year teaching the new converts. It is here they are first called “Christians” (11:26).

Reference is made to prophets in the new community – charismatic’s who have an ability to foretell future events. Here they predict a serious famine that will hit the empire during the reign of Claudius (41-54 AD). A collection is made for the “brothers” living in Judaea.

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