Archive for the ‘Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 35’ Tag

Proper 25, Year C   5 comments


Above:  Design Drawing for a Stained -Glass Window with the Publican

Image Source = Library of Congress

Designed by J. & R. Lamb Studios between 1857 and 1999

Grace, Divine and Human

The Sunday Closest to October 26

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

OCTOBER 23, 2022


The Assigned Readings:

Joel 2:23-32 and Psalm 65


Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 35:12-17 or Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22 and Psalm 84


2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Luke 18:9-14

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:


The biblical texts contain many repeated themes.  Among them is the command to obey God’s laws coupled with warnings of the consequences for not doing so followed by those consequences.  The Prophet Jeremiah, aware of those sins and their consequences, asked God for mercy on the people in Chapter 14.  In Jeremiah 15, however, God paid “no” in many words.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 35, which speaks of the divine preference for the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the wronged, begins with:

To keep the law is worth many offerings;….—35:1, The Revised English Bible

Much of the Old Testament tradition agrees with that statement.  So does the Pharisee from the parable in Luke 18:9-14.  He has kept the Law of Moses as best he knows how, as his tradition has told him to do.  But he misses one thing, another element of the Old Testament tradition:  humility before God.

You desire no sacrifice, or I would give it:

But you take no delight in burnt offerings.

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit:

A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

–Psalm 54:16-17, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

St. Paul the Apostle understood all this well.  What admirers wrote in his name after he died the Apostle could have said during his lifetime:

I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith;….—2 Timothy 4:7, The New Jerusalem Bible

The crown of righteousness is a matter of grace; we do not earn it.  Yes, James 2:24 (The Revised English Bible) tells us:

You seen then it is by action and not by faith alone that a man is justified.

But faith, in that formulation, is intellectual, so words are necessary for justification to God.  In the Pauline tradition, however, faith is inherently active, so:

For all alike have sinned, and are justified by God’s free grace alone, through his act of liberation in the person of Christ Jesus.

–Romans 3:23-24, The Revised English Bible


What room then is left for human pride?  It is excluded.  And on what principle?  The keeping of the law would not exclude it, but faith does.  For our argument is that people are justified by faith quite apart from any question of keeping the law.

–Romans 3:27-28, The Revised English Bible

According to St. Paul, the Law of Moses did its job until Christ did his, so Jesus has fulfilled the Law.

Even in judgment there can be hope, hence the lection from Joel.  The judgment which Jeremiah hoped would not come did arrive.  Later, however, so did mercy in extravagant doses.  Grace indeed!

Grace is also something we are supposed to extend to each other.

In January 2013 Jim McGown, a friend (now deceased), gave me a good book, the last of a sequence of fine volumes he imparted to me.  The last book is a daily devotional guide for Lent, Year C, by Bishop N. T. Wright.  The following lines come from Wright’s discussion of the parable from Luke:

Wasn’t the poor chap [the Pharisee] simply doing what God had told him to do?

Well, from one point of view, yes.  But Jesus was constantly nudging people, or positively shoving them, towards seeing everything differently.  Prayer is about loving God, and the deepest Jewish traditions insist that loving God is something you do with your hart, mind, soul and strength, and your neighbour as yourself, not calculating whether you’ve done everything just right and feeling smug because your neighbour hasn’t managed it so well.

Lent for Everyone:  Luke, Year C—A Daily Devotional (Louisville, KY:  Westminster/John Knox Press, 2012, pages 77-78; published originally in the United Kingdom in 2009 by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)

So I extend to you, O reader, a small portion of grace which a friend, at God’s prompting, gave to me.  Each of us is called to respond positively to God, who has done much for us.  Part of this sacred vocation is extending grace to our fellow human beings.  We have an excellent role model:  Jesus of Nazareth.  May we follow him.









Week of Proper 3: Tuesday, Year 1   7 comments

Above:  Cross of Peter

Physical Sacrifices and Spiritual Rewards

MAY 30, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 35:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

To keep the law is worth many offerings;

to heed the commandments is a shared-offering.

A kindness repaid is a grain-offering,

and to give alms is a thank-offering.

The way to please the Lord is to keep clear of evil,

and to keep clear of wrongdoing is to make atonement.

Yet do not appear before the Lord empty-handed;

perform all the sacrifices, for they are commanded.

When the just person brings his offering of fat to the altar,

its fragrance rises to the presence of the Most High.

The sacrifice of the just is acceptable,

and such a memorial will never be forgotten.

Be generous in your worship of the Lord

and do not stint the firstfruits of your labour.

Give all your gifts cheerfully,

and with gladness dedicate your tithe.

Give to the Most High as he has given to you,

as generously as your means allow,

for the Lord always repays

and you will be repaid seven times over.

Psalm 50:7-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak:

“O Israel, I will bear witness against you;

for I am God, your God.

8 I do not accuse you because of your sacrifices;

your offerings are always before me.

9 I will take no bull-calf from your stalls,

nor he-goats out of your pens;

10 For all the beasts of the forest are mine,

the herds in their thousands upon the hills.

11 I know every bird in the sky,

and the creatures of the fields are in my sight.

12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the whole world is mine and all that are in it.

13 Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls,

or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and make good your vows to the Most High.

15 Call upon me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall honor me.”

Mark 10:28-31 (Revised English Bible):

What about us?

said Peter.

We have left everything to follow you.

Jesus said,

Truly I tell you:  there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father, or children, or land, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and land–and persecutions besides; and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.


The Collect:

Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be peaceably governed by your providence; and that your Church may joyfully serve you in confidence and serenity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Christian discipleship requires sacrifice.  Something must go if we are to obey God and follow Jesus.  This is a basic principle.  So is this:  Whatever we offer to God, we must offer it out of gratitude.  We offer to God a portion of that which God has given us.  Forms of sacrifice are myriad.  They include money, talents, time, prayer, possessions, career, and life itself.  Consider Peter, who had left everything to follow Jesus.  He died when people crucified him upside down, hence the picture at the top of this post.

As I write these words, someone I do not know and will never meet is experiencing the pain resulting from the fact that his or her family and disowned him or her for becoming a Christian.  This person is not alone; God is near.  And other Christians will take this person in and become his or her new family.  And other person is dying for converting to Christianity from Islam.  He or she will receive Heaven, where nobody may harm him or her.  “Take up your cross and follow me,” Jesus says.  What is your cross?  And, more immediately, what sacrifices must you make out of gratitude?

I have been sufficiently fortunate not to experience persecution or run the risk of martyrdom.  This is because of where and when I was born.  I come from a Western society blessed with freedom of religion, one of my favorite Enlightenment ideals.  So let us bless the names of Anne Hutchinson (exiled from Massachusetts for questioning her pastor’s theology), Roger Williams (who claimed that the state should not compel anyone to pray), Thomas Jefferson (who disestablished the church in Virginia), Francis Makemie (the American Presbyterian pioneer imprisoned in New York in the early 1700s for preaching without a license), and all others who have stood courageously for freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.  They have made the lives of many people in succeeding generations much easier than they would have been otherwise.  (Read the history of the Byzantine Empire to find many abuses flowing from the union of church and state.)

But I have had to sacrifice bad (albeit enjoyable) habits, and I have done so obediently and thankfully.  Better habits have replaced them.  What I have received is far superior to what I sacrificed.  And I have had so sacrifice my illusion of control, which God has replaced with increased serenity.  I have sacrificed much arrogance, too, and found that listening more to people is quite a blessing.  I could continue, but I trust that I have made my point well.

I have many more sacrifices to make, and I trust that God will show them to me.  I have not “arrived” spiritually, and suspect that I will not do so until I enter the afterlife.  The journey continues.  Thanks be to God!


Published originally as Week of 8 Epiphany:  Tuesday, Year 1, at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on November 5, 2010