Thoughts for the Day

Friday, 10th June 2022: Ephrem the Syrian (373)

Teaching Saint Sirach 39

Reading : Verses from Sirach, Chapter 39

Saint Ephrem

How different is the one who devotes himself
to the study of the Law of the Most High!

He seeks out the wisdom of all the ancients,
and is concerned with prophecies;
he preserves the sayings of the famous
and penetrates the subtleties of parables;
he seeks out the hidden meanings of proverbs
and is at home with the obscurities of parables....

He sets his heart on rising early
to seek the Lord who made him,
and to petition the Most High;
he opens his mouth in prayer
and asks pardon for his sins.

If the great Lord is willing,
he will be filled with the spirit of understanding;
he will pour forth words of wisdom of his own
and give thanks to the Lord in prayer.

(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Ephrem of Syria was a Deacon, a Hymn writer, and a Teacher. He was born of Christian parents around 306 CE, and was baptised as a young man before being ordained Deacon. His early years were spent as a teacher in Nisibis in Mesopotamia until the city fell under Persian occupation in 363 CE. Fleeing from his home, he settled in Edessa in south-east Turkey, where he established a school of theology. Best known for his Syriac poetry, Ephrem is acclaimed as the greatest poet of the early Christian centuries, and described as the 'Harp of the Spirit' by his contemporaries. Acknowledged by the Orthodox Church as a Saint, his hymns are still used today. He died on this day in Edessa in the year 373, ministering to victims of the plague.

Our reading today is from the book of Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus and is a piece of Wisdom Literature. These are sayings similar in style and content to Proverbs. As such, it’s a valuable collection of practical advice and wise sayings. The alternate title, Ecclesiasticus, means 'Church Book'. It was written sometime between 200-175 BCE.

Like Saint Ephrem we are called to study the scriptures, and to ask pardon for our sins, and to pray for wisdom.


Lord God,
You call us to confession,
and to grow closer to You
through study of Your word.
Give us wisdom
and teach us as a Father to a child
all that we need to know.
May we continue to grow in faith
no matter the challenges ahead.

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