Thursday, July 26, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Sirach [Ecclesiasticus] 24 and Acts 12

Sirach 24 – “Wisdom. . . glories in herself in the presence of the Mighty One” (24:1-2). ‘I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and I covered the earth like mist. . .Over the waves of the sea and over the whole earth, and over every people and nation I have held sway. Among all these I searched for rest, and looked to see in whose territory I might pitch camp. Then the creator of all things instructed me, and he who created me fixed a place for my tent.

He said, “Pitch your tent in Jacob, and make Israel your inheritance” (24:3-8).

“Approach me, you who desire me, and take your fill of my fruits, for memories of me are sweeter than honey, inheriting me is sweeter than the honeycomb. They who eat me will hunger for more, they who drink me will thirst for more” (24:21).

The Law, the “Tradition” is like the waters that bring forth all fruit. “The first man never managed to grasp her [Wisdom] entirely, nor has the most recent one fully comprehended her; for her thoughts are wider than the sea, and her designs more profound than the abyss, and I [the sage], like a conduit from a river, like a watercourse running into a garden, I said, ‘I am going to water my orchard, I intend to irrigate my flower beds’. And see, my conduit has grown into a river, and my river has grown into a sea. Now I shall make discipline shine out, I shall send its light far and wide. I shall pour out teaching like prophecy, as a legacy to all future generations” (24:23-34).

Acts 12 – Herod Agrippa I, the king of Judaea, who ruled from 10 BC to 44 AD, started persecuting Christians. He beheaded James (son of Zebedee and brother of the apostle John) and arrested Peter. Peter is put under guard and chained, but an “angel” comes at night and frees him.

Peter himself “had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision” (12:9).  It is only after going though the city that Peter “comes to himself” (12:10). He goes to the home of Mary, mother of John Mark [author of the gospel of Mark, and cousin to Barnabas]. Peter knocks on the door and the servant – Rhoda – is so startled she goes and tells others before letting him in. He finally gets in and asks them to go tell James [Jesus’ brother and head of the Hebrew section of the church in Jerusalem]. Meanwhile, Herod orders execution of the guards. When Herod addresses the people as if he were a god, he is struck down. It must be 44 AD.

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