Memory of the Church

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Memory of St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem. Prayer for Jerusalem and for peace in the Holy Land.

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Ecclesiastes 10,8-14

He who digs a pit falls into it, he who undermines a wall gets bitten by a snake,

he who quarries stones gets hurt by them, he who chops wood takes a risk from it.

If, for want of sharpening, the blade is blunt, you have to work twice as hard; but it is the outcome that makes wisdom rewarding.

If, for want of charming, the snake bites, the snake-charmer gets nothing out of it.

The sayings of a sage give pleasure, what a fool says procures his own ruin:

his words have their origin in stupidity and their ending in treacherous folly.

A fool talks a great deal, but none of us in fact can tell the future; what will happen after us, who can tell?


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Qohelet, who does not claim to offer a complete picture of wisdom, contents himself with modest proverbs that are useful. He offers examples of everyday wisdom: one who digs a pit can fall into it; one who tears down a wall can be bitten by a snake. It is to say that every work can hold unpleasant surprises and in any case involves some risk. It thus occurs that one who breaks up stones may hurt himself or a woodcutter may run into danger (v. 9). Knowledge and competence are not enough to be safe. A tragedy can occur even though all precautions were taken. If one employs an axe or a scythe, it must be sharp, otherwise it takes twice the effort and with meagre results. In other words, wisdom, even though it foresees and prevents, does not give certainty of succeeding always and in everything. It does offer an advantage, however, since it guards against at least the dangers of incompetence and lack of preparation that lead to ruin. The one who is unprepared is like a "snake charmer" who cannot accomplish his task. In life -Qohelet maintains- it is good to cultivate wisdom because, even though it does not solve everything, it helps to live better anyway. The wise know how to say words which help, while the fool utters useless words, ones which provoke and harm, and he ends up raving as if he were an unbearable and dangerous madman (v. 13). His foolishness becomes apparent when he speaks of the future, that is, on the meaning of life and its end. True wisdom is to recognize one’s own ignorance of the future.