Give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his faithfulness endures for ever. Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord or show forth all his praise?
Blessed are those who observe what is right and always do what is just.
Remember me, O Lord, in the favour you bear for your people; visit me in the day of your salvation; That I may see the prosperity of your chosen and rejoice in the gladness of your people, and exult with your inheritance. We have sinned like our forebears; we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
In Egypt they did not consider your wonders, nor remember the abundance of your faithful love; they rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. But he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his power to be known. He rebuked the Red Sea and it was dried up; so he led them through the deep as through the wilderness. He saved them from the adversary’s hand and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. As for those that troubled them, the waters overwhelmed them; there was not one of them left. Then they believed his words and sang aloud his praise. But soon they forgot his deeds and would not wait for his counsel. A craving seized them in the wilderness, and they put God to the test in the desert. He gave them their desire, but sent a wasting sickness among them. They grew jealous of Moses in the camp and of Aaron, the holy one of the Lord. So the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and covered the company of Abiram. A fire was kindled in their company; the flame burnt up the wicked. They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image; Thus they exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that feeds on hay. They forgot God their saviour, who had done such great things in Egypt, Wonderful deeds in the land of Ham and fearful things at the Red Sea. So he would have destroyed them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath from consuming them.
Then they scorned the Promised Land and would not believe his word, But murmured in their tents and would not heed the voice of the Lord. So he lifted his hand against them and swore to overthrow them in the wilderness, To disperse their descendants among the nations, and to scatter them throughout the lands. They joined themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to the dead. They provoked him to anger with their evil deeds and a plague broke out among them. Then Phinehas stood up and interceded and so the plague was stayed. This was counted to him for righteousness throughout all generations for ever.
They angered him also at the waters of Meribah, so that Moses suffered for their sake; For they so embittered his spirit that he spoke rash words with his lips. They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them. They mingled with the nations and learned to follow their ways, So that they worshipped their idols, which became to them a snare. Their own sons and daughters they sacrificed to evil spirits. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, Which they offered to the idols of Canaan, and the land was defiled with blood. Thus were they polluted by their actions, and in their wanton deeds went whoring after other gods.
Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, and he abhorred his inheritance. He gave them over to the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. So their enemies oppressed them and put them in subjection under their hand. Many a time did he deliver them, but they rebelled through their own devices and were brought down through their wickedness. Nevertheless, he saw their adversity, when he heard their lamentation. He remembered his covenant with them and relented according to the greatness of his faithful love. He made them also to be pitied by all who had taken them captive.
Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting and to everlasting; and let all the people say, Amen.
2 Kings 18.1-12
In the third year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, Hezekiah son of King Ahaz of Judah began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; he reigned for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole. He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it; it was called Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord the God of Israel; so that there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him, or among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following him but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; wherever he went, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. He attacked the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watch-tower to fortified city.
In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria came up against Samaria, besieged it, and at the end of three years took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of King Hoshea of Israel, Samaria was taken. The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria, settled them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant—all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; they neither listened nor obeyed.
I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defence of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will result in my deliverance. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heart: grant that, following the example of the blessed Francis, we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.