Friday, 7 January 2011

Blessed is the Wood

Here is a beautiful extract from Chapter 14 of the Book of Wisdom, which I read with great delight the other day. I’ve no doubt many readers will already be familiar with it, but I hope you will enjoy being reminded of it. The extract is taken from the Catholic Revised Standard Version.

To set it in its context, the writer is dealing with the foolish worship of idols, such as those made of wood, which are no more than the product of a man’s hands. He contrasts this with the natural properties of the wood, and with the skill that fashions it into something beneficial: in this instance, into a ship. The natural properties, and the human skill, are both genuine expressions of God’s wisdom,
but it is your providence, O Father, that steers its course,
because you have given it a path in the sea,
and a safe way through the waves,
showing that you can save from every danger,
so that even if a man lacks skill, he may put to sea.
It is your will that works of your wisdom should not be without effect;
therefore men trust their lives even to the smallest piece of wood,
and passing through the billows on a raft they come safely to land.
For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing,
the hope of the world took refuge on a raft,
and guided by your hand left to the world the seed of a new generation.
For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.

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