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September Lectionary Background

In September the seasonal canticle is recorded in 1 Chronicles and is from King David's prayer of praise to God at the donation of supplies for the building of the first temple. As David confesses that all things, even his own, come from God, we confess the same truth as we give to God an offering of what He entrusts to our care.

On the first four days of September, we finish reading the book of Job. One of the so-called "wisdom" books, Job gives us a good understanding of God's justice in light of human suffering. At times we feel, as did Job, that God is only wrathful towards us, but grace is always there. God's answer to a somewhat impertinent Job in chapters 38-41 helps us keep the right perspective when we want to ask God those seemingly unanswerable questions.

September 5-14, Proverbs, another wisdom book, is our central focus. Many of these short, pithy and practical sayings are from King Solomon; 1 Kings 3 tells how Solomon prayed to God for wisdom, and 1 Kings 4:32 tells of his ability to speak proverbs. The "wisdom" so often described is the result of reverence (fear) for God. Jesus personifies Wisdom, and we herein read of His summoning us to His banquet: "Come, eat of My bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled" (Proverbs 9:5 KJV). That statement can point to Christ's invitation in His Holy Supper! Note also the testimonial to women in 31:10-31.

For four days in the middle of the month, we read Ecclesiastes. King Solomon may also have authored this look at the measure of human beings, though the author's name is not directly given in the book. Human wisdom cannot figure out God's larger purposes or the meaning of our existence: it all seems meaningless, but life centered on God has purpose and meaning.

Next in September we spend two days with another "wisdom" book, Song of Songs (that is, the greatest of songs), also called Song of Solomon (which could be simply a song about Solomon-Solomon's authorship is debated). In this dialog between the beloved and the lover, with comments from friends interspersed, one notes "The subtle delicacy with which [the author] evokes sensuous awareness while avoiding crude titillation". While the book can be taken to endorse marital love in all its beauty, its most edifying use accents God's love for His people, giving us an Old Testament picture of the Church as the Bride of Christ, a figure of speech St. Paul also uses by Divine inspiration in Ephesians 5, with clear references to the role of Baptism ("the washing of water by the Word") in making the Church holy.

Lastly in September we begin the book of Jeremiah, one of the longest in the Bible, and one of the so-called "latter prophets". Jeremiah prophesied of God's coming judgment upon the people of Judah and its capital, Jerusalem. Yet, he also foretells of the people's release and return from exile to their land. He prophesies of Christ and His kingdom, especially in the 23rd and the 31st chapter, which latter chapter finishes off this month's readings. Especially notable in Jeremiah 31 is the promise of the new covenant under which God forgives sins and changes minds and hearts through His Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Jeremiah 1:5 is an important text used in Biblical arguments against abortion.


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