Hear my teaching, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will pour forth mysteries from of old, such as we have heard and known, which our forebears have told us. We will not hide from their children, but will recount to generations to come, the praises of the Lord and his power and the wonderful works he has done.
He laid a solemn charge on Jacob and made it a law in Israel, which he commanded them to teach their children, that the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn, that they in turn might tell it to their children; so that they might put their trust in God and not forget the deeds of God, but keep his commandments, and not be like their forebears, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The people of Ephraim, armed with the bow, turned back in the day of battle; they did not keep the covenant of God and refused to walk in his law; they forgot what he had done and the wonders he had shown them. For he did marvellous things in the sight of their forebears, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
He divided the sea and let them pass through; he made the waters stand still in a heap.
He led them with a cloud by day and all the night through with a blaze of fire.
He split the hard rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink as from the great deep.
He brought streams out of the rock and made water gush out like rivers.
Yet for all this they sinned more against him and defied the Most High in the wilderness.
They tested God in their hearts and demanded food for their craving.
They spoke against God and said,
‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? ‘He struck the rock indeed, so that the waters gushed out and the streams overflowed, but can he give bread or provide meat for his people?’
When the Lord heard this, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob and his anger went out against Israel, for they had no faith in God and put no trust in his saving help. So he commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven. He rained down upon them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. So mortals ate the bread of angels; he sent them food in plenty.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens and led out the south wind by his might.
He rained flesh upon them as thick as dust and winged fowl like the sand of the sea.
He let it fall in the midst of their camp and round about their tents.
So they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they desired.
But they did not stop their craving; their food was still in their mouths, when the anger of God rose against them, and slew their strongest men and felled the flower of Israel. But for all this, they sinned yet more and put no faith in his wonderful works. So he brought their days to an end like a breath and their years in sudden terror.
Whenever he slew them, they would seek him; they would repent and earnestly search for God. They remembered that God was their rock and the Most High God their redeemer. Yet they did but flatter him with their mouth and dissembled with their tongue. Their heart was not steadfast towards him, neither were they faithful to his covenant.
But he was so merciful that he forgave their misdeeds and did not destroy them; many a time he turned back his wrath and did not suffer his whole displeasure to be roused. For he remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes by and does not return.
Now Jephthah the Gileadite, the son of a prostitute, was a mighty warrior. Gilead was the father of Jephthah. Gilead’s wife also bore him sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah away, saying to him, ‘You shall not inherit anything in our father’s house; for you are the son of another woman.’ Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Outlaws collected around Jephthah and went raiding with him.
After a time the Ammonites made war against Israel. And when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah from the land of Tob. They said to Jephthah, ‘Come and be our commander, so that we may fight with the Ammonites.’ But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, ‘Are you not the very ones who rejected me and drove me out of my father’s house? So why do you come to me now when you are in trouble?’ The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, ‘Nevertheless, we have now turned back to you, so that you may go with us and fight with the Ammonites, and become head over us, over all the inhabitants of Gilead.’ Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, ‘If you bring me home again to fight with the Ammonites, and the Lord gives them over to me, I will be your head.’ And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, ‘The Lord will be witness between us; we will surely do as you say.’ So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord at Mizpah.
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’
you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.