Sirach 5: Precepts for Everyday Living
In this reading we see images of a merciful and sometimes wrathful God woven through practical pieces of advice.
Do not say, “His mercy is great, he will forgive the multitude of my sins,” for both mercy and wrath are with him, and his anger will rest on sinners . . . Do not winnow in every wind, or follow every path. Stand firm for what you know, and let your speech be consistent. Be quick to hear, but deliberate in answering. If you know what to say, answer your neighbor; but if not, put your hand over your mouth.
Sirach reminds us that God is patient, forgiving, and understanding of our innermost thoughts and desires, and after reading the instruction from ben Sirach, we will want to explore not only our words and actions but our motivations as well. Why do we do and say what we do and say? When and why are we silent? When and how do we speak? When and where do we act? What do we value and how do we use the gifts we are given? Sirach tells gives us simple precepts for our complicated days.
Do not rely on your wealth, or say, “I have enough.” Do not follow your inclination and strength in pursuing the desires of your heart.
We live in a strange world of too many words and not enough clear information. In our search for clarity, we work to distill truth, measure honesty and reveal deceit. So often the advice of even the wisest among us is not enough so when we cannot see through the fog of abandoned promises, we must raise our eyes and hearts to the originator of our being. When we find ourselves on the knife’s edge of a demanding life, we place tired feet in the well-worn path of Jesus’ Way. And when we find ourselves falling into the depths of a dark and frightening well, we also find that we are falling not into nothingness but into the full and healing arms of the Spirit.
Sirach counsels us with his well-honed words. Jesus calls us with his proven Way. God leads us with a firm and guiding hand. And the Holy Spirit heals us as we move through wounding days. Despite all that frightens or wearies us, there is much to celebrate in our hearts and with others. Let us return to ancient advice that brings light to our darkness and joy to our hearts.