Holy Church appoints to-day her book, the Church's wisdom, that is, Ecclesiasticus, to be read at Matins; and it is the fourteenth chapter thereof with which the lessons are concerned, beginning with verses 1 to 5:
Blessed is the man that hath not slipped by a word out of his mouth and is not pricked with the remorse of sin. Happy is he that hath had no sadness of his mind, and who is not fallen from his hope. ... He that is evil to himself, to whom will he be good? ... (Ecclus xiv, 1-2, 5a)
The second lesson (verses 6 to 10) concerns the self-hatred of the envious and covetous; to-day, by reason of the occurrence of the feast of St Pius X, it is combined with the third lesson (verses 11 t0 17):
My son, if thou have any thing, do good to thyself, and offer to God worthy offerings. Remember that death is not slow, and that the covenant of hell hath been shewn to thee: for the covenant of this world shall surely die [that is, the decree that dying we shall die binds all men]. Do good to thy friend before thou die: and according to thy ability, stretching out thy hand, give to the poor. Defraud not thyself of the good day: and let not the part of a good gift overpass thee. Shalt thou leave to others to divide by lot thy sorrows and labours? Give and take, and justify thy soul. Before thy death work justice: for in hell there is no finding food.
In other words, all too soon we shall die, and whatsoever we have not done, never shall we do. Now is the time to act, and do good while it is yet day, for the night comes when none can work. Death is certain; when we are weighed in the balance, "Every work that is corruptible shall fail in the end: and the worker thereof shall go with it [to corruption]. And every good work shall be justified: and the worker thereof shall be honoured therein." (Ecclus xiv, 20f)
Here we have expressed already in the Old Testament the doctrine of the Apostle:
For other foundation no man can lay, which is laid: which is Christ Jesus. Now, if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: every man's work shall be manifest. For the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire. And the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon , he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. (I Cor. iii, 11-15)
Whatsoever good we do, if it is truly founded upon Christ, and built conformably upon Him, it will be good; but unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain (Ps 126:1). Thus saith the Spirit: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord... for their works follow them." (Apoc. xiv, 13b & d)
Redeem the time!