December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Book of Wisdom
- 1 For all men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;
- 2 But either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.
- Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them.
- Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them from these things realize how much more powerful is he who made them.
- For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.
- 3 But yet, for these the blame is less; For they indeed have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find him.
- For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.
- But again, not even these are pardonable.
- For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its LORD?
- But doomed are they, and in dead things are their hopes, who termed gods things made by human hands: Gold and silver, the product of art, and likenesses of beasts, or useless stone, the work of an ancient hand.
- A carpenter may saw out a suitable tree and skillfully scrape off all its bark, And deftly plying his art, produce something fit for daily use,
- and use up the refuse from his handiwork in preparing his food, and have his fill;
- Then the good-for-nothing refuse from these remnants, crooked wood grown full of knots, he takes and carves to occupy his spare time. This wood he models with listless skill, and patterns it on the image of a man
- or makes it resemble some worthless beast. When he has daubed it with red and crimsoned its surface with red stain, and daubed over every blemish in it,
- He makes a fitting shrine for it and puts it on the wall, fastening it with a nail.
- Thus lest it fall down he provides for it, knowing that it cannot help itself; for, truly, it is an image and needs help.
- But when he prays about his goods or marriage or children, he is not ashamed to address the thing without a soul. And for vigor he invokes the powerless;
- and for life he entreats the dead; And for aid he beseeches the wholly incompetent, and about travel, something that cannot even walk.
- And for profit in business and success with his hands he asks facility of a thing with hands completely inert.
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1  Him who is: the Hebrew sacred name of God; cf Exodus 3:14.
2  Luminaries of heaven: the Latin interprets, "sun and moon"; governors: cf Genesis 1:16.
3  The blame is less: the greater blame is incurred by those mentioned in Wisdom 13:10; 15:14-16.
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