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Wisdom of Sirach

by May 30, 2023Friar Reflection

The first reading for today comes from the Book of Sirach (also known as the Wisdom of Ben Sira and as Ecclesiasticus, or more literally, “Church Book.”) The author, a sage who lived in Jerusalem, was thoroughly imbued with love for the wisdom tradition, and also for the law, priesthood, Temple, and divine worship. As a wise and experienced observer of life he addressed himself to his contemporaries with the motive of helping them to maintain religious faith and integrity through study of the books sacred to the Jewish tradition. Written in Hebrew in the early years of the second century B.C., it holds up the wisdom of the life, scriptures and traditions of Israel as a more sure reflection of the desire of God for his people as opposed to the surrounding Hellenistic culture.

Our passage offers advice on:

  • the nature of prayer (generous with a mind to the Covenant laws);
  • our attitude towards our Creator (joyful and grateful)
  • reminds us of the character of God: just, compassionate, attentive to suffering and injustice, hears the cry of the oppressed, the orphan, and the widow, and He promises to respond; and

The author Points out the purpose and role of sacrificing offerings to God – not only in the formal practices of the faith but in the way in which we keep the commandments. The way in which we carry ourselves in the world is “is most pleasing, [and] will [never] be forgotten” (v.9)

Ben Sira advises us to give generously to those in need and not to withhold blessings from others.

Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously, according to your means. For the LORD is one who always repays, and he will give back to you sevenfold. (vv.12-13)

This act of giving is portrayed as an act of thanksgiving to God, acknowledging that all blessings come from Him. It is the offering described in Leviticus 2.

I am reminded of the writings of St. Bonaventure: “Humility is the guardian and gateway to all the virtues, and the first evidence of this is gratitude.”