December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Book of Wisdom
- for your imperishable spirit is in all things!
- Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them, and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!
- For truly, the ancient inhabitants of your holy land,
- whom you hated for deeds most odious-- Works of witchcraft and impious sacrifices;
- 1 a cannibal feast of human flesh and of blood, from the midst of. . .-- These merciless murderers of children,
- and parents who took with their own hands defenseless lives, You willed to destroy by the hands of our fathers,
- that the land that is dearest of all to you might receive a worthy colony of God's children.
- But even these, as they were men, you spared, and sent wasps as forerunners of your army that they might exterminate them by degrees.
- Not that you were without power to have the wicked vanquished in battle by the just, or wiped out at once by terrible beasts or by one decisive word;
- But condemning them bit by bit, you gave them space for repentance. You were not unaware that their race was wicked and their malice ingrained, And that their dispositions would never change;
- for they were a race accursed from the beginning. Neither out of fear for anyone did you grant amnesty for their sins.
- For who can say to you, "What have you done?" or who can oppose your decree? Or when peoples perish, who can challenge you, their maker; or who can come into your presence as vindicator of unjust men?
- For neither is there any god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned;
- Nor can any king or prince confront you on behalf of those you have punished.
- But as you are just, you govern all things justly; you regard it as unworthy of your power to punish one who has incurred no blame.
- For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
- 2 For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.
- But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you.
- And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; And you gave your sons good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.
- For these were enemies of your servants, doomed to death; yet, while you punished them with such solicitude and pleading, granting time and opportunity to abandon wickedness,
- With what exactitude you judged your sons, to whose fathers you gave the sworn covenants of goodly promises!
- Us, therefore, you chastise and our enemies with a thousand blows you punish, that we may think earnestly of your goodness when we judge, and, when being judged, may look for mercy.
- Hence those unjust also, who lived a life of folly, you tormented through their own abominations.
- For they went far astray in the paths of error, taking for gods the worthless and disgusting among beasts, deceived like senseless infants.
- Therefore as though upon unreasoning children, you sent your judgment on them as a mockery;
- But they who took no heed of punishment which was but child's play were to experience a condemnation worthy of God.
- For in the things through which they suffered distress, since they were tortured by the very things they deemed gods, They saw and recognized the true God whom before they had refused to know; with this, their final condemnation came upon them.
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1  And of blood, from the midst of . . .: this line is obscure in the current Greek text and in all extant translations. Either one or two words would complete it. The horrible crimes here spoken of (cf Wisdom 14:23) were not unheard of in the ancient pagan world.
2  The brunt of God's anger and vindictive justice is borne by those who know him and yet defy his authority and might. Cf Wisdom 1:2; 15:2 but also 12:27; 18:13.
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