May 25 Devotional (2021)

The hope of the godless is like chaff carried on the wind, like fine spray driven by the storm; it disperses like smoke before the wind, goes away like the memory of a one-day guest.


A prayer inspired by St. Bede the Venerable, who the Church remembers on May 25th

Heavenly Father, who didst call thy servant Bede, while still a Child, to devote his life to thy service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship: Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of thy truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make thee known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


May 25, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:   Wisdom 5:14–16 ; Genesis 11:1-9 ; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27


Invitatory

The Spirit of the Lord filleth the world: * 

O come, let us worship Him. Alleluia!

Opening Prayer

Almighty God, as we come here today to better know You through the study of Your word, meet us each at the point of our needs, send Your Spirit to guide our hearts and enlighten our minds, and bring us reassurance of Your unfailing love all the day long; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn

“Come, thou Holy Spirit bright”

By Charles P. Price, b. 1920

(1982 Hymnal # 226)


Morning Prayer

May the true God of all things, who sent forth His Holy Spirit upon the apostles in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, send the Spirit now upon us, to guard us and impart to us His bounty, that the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control – may be ours, this day and forever. Amen.

  • Adapted from Cyril of Jerusalem
  • Short Verse

    The Gifts of the Holy Spirit : Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Holy Fear 

    — from ISAIAH 11:2
    John Deakin (1912-1972), photograph of Lucian Freud, c. 1964, John Wronn Photograph: John Wronn/The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Department of Imaging and Visual Resources
    (source)

    Morning Reading: Wisdom 5:14–16

    The Regrets of the Wicked

    The hope of the godless is like chaff carried on the wind, like fine spray driven by the storm; it disperses like smoke before the wind, goes away like the memory of a one-day guest. But the upright live for ever, their recompense is with the Lord, and the Most High takes care of them. So they will receive a glorious crown and the diadem of beauty from the Lord’s hand; for he will shelter them with his right hand and with his arm he will shield them.

    Morning Lesson

    Wisdom and the Apocrypha

    “During the Time between the Testaments, a variety of books related to themes and figures in the Hebrew Scripture were produced. Some of these documents claimed to be written by people in the Bible from long ago (pseudepigrapha, credited to people such as Enoch, Adam and Eve, and Moses). Other books contained history (1 and 2 Maccabees), supplements to recognized biblical books (Baruch, additions to Daniel and Esther) , or contemporary religious thought (wisdom books). A number of the books were translated for the LXX.” [2]

    “Jerome included some of these books in his Latin translation of the Bible (Vulgate) in the fourth century AD. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestants regard these books as a “second canon” (deuterocanonical books) or supplemental list to the Old Testament. Luther thought these books were good to read but did not regard them as Holy Scripture.” [3]

    “The German Luther Bible included virtually all the Old Testament apocryphal books but placed them in a separate section, between the Old and New Testaments.” [4] This is also true of the King James Bible. “This was an important change from the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate (the Bibles used during the ancient and medieval periods ). Luther wrote prefaces for the Apocrypha for different editions of the Bible from 1529 to 1534, when the first complete ‘Luther Bible’ translation was published. In these prefaces, Luther summarized what each apocryphal book was about, its value, and the reasons he saw for distinguishing it from the Old Testament.” [5] A portion of Luther’s preface to the Wisdom of Solomon is below. 

    Preface to the Wisdom of Solomon [6]: 

    For a long time this book has stood in the cross fire of controversy as to whether or not it should be included among the sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament, especially in view of the fact that the author suggests in chapter 9[: 7] that throughout the book it is King Solomon speaking— he whose wisdom is also extolled in the Book of Kings [ I Kings 4 , 10 ].

    The ancient church fathers, however, excluded it outright from the sacred Scriptures. . . . They contend, however, that Philo is the author of this book. Undoubtedly he was one of the most learned and wisest men the Jewish people have had since the prophets, as he demonstrated in other books and deeds of his. . . . When the emperor was so embittered against the Jews that he turned them away and would not even hear them, then Philo— a man of courage and confidence— spoke up and said to his fellow Jews, “Well, then, dear brethren, do not be afraid but take heart; just because human help fails us, God’s help will surely be with us!”

    In my estimation, this book must have come out of such a situation or cause. . . . It came to be regarded by many as a genuine book of sacred Scripture. . . . There are many good things in this book, and it is well worth reading . . . . This book is timely for our day, because tyrants are now cocksurely abusing their authority against him from whom they have it. . . . It pleases me beyond measure that the author here [6: 22] extols the Word of God so highly, and ascribes to the Word all the wonders God has performed , both on enemies and in his saints. . . .

    Finally, this book is a proper exposition and illustration of the first commandment. For here you see that the author throughout is teaching you to fear and trust God; he terrifies with examples of divine wrath those who are not afraid and who despise God, and he comforts with examples of divine grace those who believe and trust him.


    OPTIONAL FURTHER READING:
    About the Book of Wisdom

    Author And Date: 

    “The Book of Wisdom was written in an elegant Greek dialect spoken in the Nile delta region of Egypt after its conquest by Alexander the Great, which took place in 332 BC. The anonymous sacred writer was a highly intelligent individual who understood the history and traditions of Israel as well as Greek culture. Because it reveals a familiarity with the Greek Septuagint translation of the Scriptures, most scholars place the writing of Wisdom between 200 BC and the late first century BC.” [7]

    Audience: 

    “The book appears to have been directed to the Hellenized Jews of the Diaspora in Egypt who were experiencing difficulties in remaining faithful to their Jewish roots and traditions while having to adapt to the surrounding Greek culture. Hellenization threatened Jewish identity, and the faithful needed to learn how to live in a pagan Greek world by appropriating what was good and useful from Greek thought while maintaining proper faith and worship of the one true God.” [8]

    Main Themes: 

    “Wisdom is a theologically rich book that spans a wide range of important themes. It was one of the first books of Scripture to be written originally in Greek and to express the faith of the Jewish people in terms of Greek language and culture—something the sacred writers of the New Testament would do later for the Gospel message of Christ. It was a preparation for the move from the concept of a”Chosen People” favored by God to the mandate of Christ that the Good News of salvation be taught to all nations.” [9]

    “The author wrote in praise of wisdom in both a Greek and a Jewish context. The Greeks held wisdom to be a virtue to which everyone should aspire; the sacred writer affirmed this but went further to say that wisdom is a gift from God that he offers to those who are faithful to him.” [10]

    “Here, too, we find explicit recognition of the immortal human soul and life after death (cf. 2:23—3:4), although the concept is short on details as to the nature of the afterlife or the relationship of body and soul. Whereas in Ecclesiastes the practice of divine wisdom brought happiness in the present life, in Wisdom it leads to eternal life. The ungodly fail to consider the afterlife and, thinking only of earthly life, fail to understand its true meaning and to live accordingly.” [11]



    Midday Prayer

    TO THE HOLY SPIRIT 

    Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.

  • St. Augustine [12]
  • Short Verse

    Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

    1 Corinthians 3:16
    “The Tower of Babel”
    By Pieter the Elder
    (1563)
    (source)

    Midday Reading: Genesis 11:1-9

    The fragmenting of human tongues

    1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

    Midday Lesson

    The Tower of Babel

    “The Tower of Babel was more than just an architectural endeavor or an attempt to unify the diverse peoples of the earth; this undertaking was a monument to themselves and their own greatness—an excess of pride in human accomplishment rather than a reflection of God’s rightful place as the ultimate source of creative capacities. For this reason God is said to have confused their languages and scattered them throughout the earth.” [13]

    “The tower of Babel was most likely a ziggurat, a common structure in Babylonia at this time. Most often built as temples, ziggurats looked like pyramids with steps or ramps leading up the sides. Ziggurats stood as high as 300 feet and were often just as wide; thus they were the focal point of the city. The people in this story built their tower as a monument to their own greatness, something for the whole world to see.” [14]

    “The tower of Babel was a great human achievement, a wonder of the world. But it was a monument to the people themselves rather than to God. We may build monuments to ourselves (expensive clothes, big house, fancy car, important job) to call attention to our achievements. These may not be wrong in themselves, but when we use them to give us identity and self-worth, they take God’s place in our lives. We are free to develop in many areas, but we are not free to think we have replaced God. What ‘towers’ have you built in your life?” [15]

    “Mankind was united as one race and one language. But this unity existed without the Holy Trinity, for man’s true unity is union and communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Church is the ‘race of Christians’… a ‘holy nation’ (1Pt 2:9), and glorifies God ‘with… one mouth’ (Rom 15:6).” [16] .



    Eventide Prayer

    Our Father, who art in heaven,

         hallowed be thy Name,

         thy kingdom come,

         thy will be done,

             on earth as it is in heaven.

    Give us this day our daily bread.

    And forgive us our trespasses,

         as we forgive those

             who trespass against us.

    And lead us not into temptation,

         but deliver us from evil.

    Short Verse

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31
    “The Body of Christ”
    By Jerry Bacik
    (source)

    Evensong Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

    Many members, one body of Christ

    12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

    14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

    21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

    27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

    Evensong Lesson

    The Body of Christ

    Our reading from 1 Corinthians is a “remarkable passage that leaves no room for a spiritual inferiority complex.” [17] Nor does it leave room for a spiritual superiority complex. Instead, this passage emphasizes the fact that “every member of Christ’s body is important to the overall life and work of the Church.” [18] As this passage reminds us, “there is no such thing as an ‘individual’ Christian… Being knit together in love (Col 2:2), we are called in Christ to suffer together, be honored together, and rejoice together.” [19]

    “Paul compares the body of Christ to a human body. Each part has a specific function that is necessary to the body as a whole. The parts are different for a purpose, and in their differences they must work together. Christians must avoid two common errors: (1) being too proud of their abilities, or (2) thinking they have nothing to give to the body of believers. Instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we should use our different gifts, together, to spread the good news of salvation.” [20]

    “The church is composed of many types of people from a variety of backgrounds with a multitude of gifts and abilities. It is easy for these differences to divide people, as was the case in Corinth. But despite the differences, all believers have one thing in common—faith in Christ. On this essential truth the church finds unity. All believers are baptized by one Holy Spirit into one body of believers, the church. We don’t lose our individual identities, but we have an overriding oneness in Christ. When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence, and that person is born into God’s family. “To drink into one Spirit” means that each of us has received the same Holy Spirit. As members of God’s family, we may have different interests and gifts, but we are united by the Spirit into one spiritual body.” [21]

    “Paul argued for diversity of gifts and acceptance of the full range of gifts that God gives to his people. No one should feel superior about his or her gift; instead, all should use their gifts to willingly serve. Too often the “up-front” gifts, like speaking or teaching, are more highly regarded than the “behind-the-scenes” gifts, like helping and serving. No one should discount the contribution of another person, no matter how insignificant it may seem. We should not be dissatisfied with the gift God has given us but be eager to serve. Nor should we envy those who seem to have more gifts than we do. In love, treat everyone’s gift, yours included, as valuable to God.” [22]

    “What is your response when a fellow Christian is honored? How do you respond when someone is suffering? We are called to rejoice with those who are honored and to suffer with those who suffer (Romans 12:15). Too often, unfortunately, we are jealous of those who rejoice and apathetic toward those who weep. Believers are in the world together—there is no such thing as private or individualistic Christianity. We need to get involved in the lives of others and not just enjoy our own relationship with God.” [23]

    “In one succinct statement, the apostle expresses both the unity and the diversity of the body of Christ. The absence of the definite article in Greek (ho, “the”) before the expression body of Christ emphasizes character: since they are Christ’s body, their actions and attitudes toward one another should reflect His character.” [24]

    Compline Prayer

    Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; for you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth. Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings.†

    Amen. 


    Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

    Citations:

    [1] N/A

    [2] A., E. E. (2016). The Holy Scripture and Other Ancient Writings. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 6735). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [3] Ibid. 2, P. 6735-6736

    [4] A., E. E. (2016). Luther’s Preface to the Apocrypha. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 6739). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [5] Ibid. 4

    [6] Ibid. 4, P. 6740-6741

    [7] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Wisdom of Solomon. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 1769). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [8] Ibid. 7

    [9] Ibid. 7

    [10] Ibid. 7

    [11] Ibid. 7

    [12] Papavassiliou, V. (2014). Prayers of the Saints. In The ancient faith prayer book (Kindle ed., p. 116). Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing.

    [13] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Genesis. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 179). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [14] Ibid. 13

    [15] Ibid. 13

    [16] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Genesis. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 95). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson

    [17] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 1 Corinthians. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1597). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [18] Ibid. 17

    [19] Ibid. 17

    [20] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: 1 Corinthians. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 8728). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

    [21] Ibid. 20

    [22] Ibid. 20, P. 8728-8729

    [23] Ibid. 20, P. 8729

    [24] 1 Corinthians. (2017). In The King James study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 5314). Nashville, TN, USA: Thomas Nelson.

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