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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus ben Sirach’


Sirach 20: The Wise and Foolish

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Jan Adam Kruseman: The Wise and Foolish Virgins

This chapter of Sirach is too good to be missed.  Every verse is a nugget to be held and valued.  Jesus ben Sirach draws us away from stereotyping . . . toward universality. . . and the understanding that there is no one member of Christ’s mystical body who has a lock on the mystery of God . . . other than Jesus himself.

The Lamb is the one who opens the sealed scroll in Revelation.  The Lamb is the one who appears slain . . . but who saves . . . by the giving over of himself.  We who answer his call to form the mystical body do well to seek and study, to ask and search.  This is the only true path to life in Christ.  When we knock, he will answer.  When we search, he will find.

Admonitions, comparisons, similes, metaphors, ironies, paradoxes . . . words moving into concepts that guide our lives.

The proper time for speech and silence.

True and false wisdom.

Double entendres that hide and reveal.

Seeing stereotypes for what they are . . . a division of the whole . . . an anti-universe.

Wisdom seems to always be accompanied by foolishness and Matthew’s story of the Ten Virgins comes to mind.  Therefore keep watch because you do not know the day or time.  There is hidden treasure in these refrains and sayings.

Proverbs that lend us so much wisdom . . . these are nuggets to be valued and taken to heart.  These are the wise sayings that lead to life in Christ.  These are the refrains our parents used and that we echo to our children and grandchildren.  Read these words . . . and pass them on . . . for this is the stuff that leads to salvation, to unity, to universality.  This is Christ.

Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure – of what use is either?  Better the man who hides his folly than the one who hides his wisdom.


Written on November 20, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

http://www.wijermars.com/Collection/Jan_Adam_Kruseman-De_Wijze_en_de_Dwaze_Maagden.html

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Sirach 30:14-25: Health of Body and Soul

Saturday, November 23, 2019

There are so many ways to be joyful, and the list which Jesus Ben Sirach imparts to us today is worthy of our time.  I like the way the writer juxtaposes bitterness with joy, cheerfulness with brooding, courage with resentment, good health with a wasted frame.  Verse 20 is particularly interesting as we may know people who are determined to be sad.  Verse 25 is also fun – especially when we look ahead at 31:12-31 and 32:1-13, table etiquette.

Cheerful hospitality is a hallmark of Gospel living.  Offering of hearth and family are a sign of our willingness to be open and vulnerable to God through those whom he sends to enter our homes and our sacred places of the heart.  For the hearth of the family and the heart of the individual – these are the places where God dwells, where the Holy Spirit abides . . . and it is for this reason that we must seek composure of the heart.

Contentment of spirit, writes Sirach, better this than precious coral.

God wants us to be happy and to revel in our happiness.  God wishes us well, urges us to live cheerfully, to let him take on our worries and anxieties.  Through discipline, through doing well and doing right, through acting with mercy and justice . . . this is how we reach true contentment, true softening . . . and composure of the heart. 

The words of Sirach remind us well of this.


Written on January 23, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://moochuk.com/index.php?showimage=328

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Sirach 7: Public and Private Life

Friday, March 29, 2019

Several days ago we reflected on the meaning of our public image in the Book of Daniel; today with Sirach we might spend time with how this compares to our private life.  The Irish culture holds an image of a man who is a street angel but a house devil . . . pleasant and amiable – even lovable – to his neighbors . . . while beating his wife and children behind closed doors.  How many of us harbor devils inside that we do not show to the world?  How do these devils slip into our lives without our knowing?

We are advised by Jesus ben Sirach to bring our public and private lives into line with our covenant promise with Yahweh.

In this book of wisdom, we are cautioned that we must be humble in our dealings with one another; we ought not seek out the high places at the table.  We are warned to refrain from seeking work as a judge unless we have the strength to root out crime; otherwise we succumb to corruption and mar our integrity.  We ought not flaunt our wisdom, our power, our wealth, our specialness in any way . . . for our pride will be our undoing.  This is how humility arrives.

We are also advised to steer clear of situations the catechism refers to as near occasions of sin: those times when we ourselves do not sin but come dangerously close to slipping over the precipice into evil.  Standing by wordless as we watch malevolence occur without offering witness to injustice is not the way of the Lord. When we lack courage, we only need to look to God for strength.  This is how fortitude arrives.

We ought to pray in earnest and not hurry through prayer as this leaves room for a false sense of independence from God.  We humble ourselves appropriately when we come before the Lord and so we ought to enter into prayerfulness with deliberation and patience so that we might all the better hear the word of God.  This is how wisdom arrives.

In private and in our family life, we need to continue to live with thoughtfulness, with intention.  Treating servants well – or the people we meet in the mall, in the supermarket, in the gas station – leads us to treating all well.  Honoring elders, respecting the living, remembering the dead.  This is how piety arrives.

Refrain from bartering for friends.  Mourn with those who mourn.  Steer clear of those who do not.  Visit the sick.  This is how compassion arrives.

When we eliminate fear and pain from our lives by blocking them out and riding over these powerful emotions, we also eliminate important opportunities for learning the ways of God.  We erase the opportunities for God to guide and protect us.  When we petition God and thank him for his bounty, we indicate our understanding that we are his creatures.  This is how faith arrives.

When we balance our inner self with our outer self, we clear away the dark corners where house devils might lurk.  Integrity finds a comfortable dwelling place within . . . and chases away these devils to make room for angels.  This is how hope arrives.

When we bring into focus our whole mind, our whole heart, our whole body and our whole soul to celebrate our union with God, we enter into his divinity.  This is why the words of Jesus ben Sirach are so important to us today.  With all your strength, love your Creator . . . for this is how love arrives.


A re-post from March 29, 2012.

Image from: http://sandeshavahini.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-heart-in-the-bible/

To review the Noontime reflection on Public Life go to: https://thenoontimes.wordpress.com/2012/3/23/

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Monday, February 18, 2013 – Sirach Foreword, 1 & 2

Falling Into God’s Hands

gods hands[2]This book is not found in Hebrew or Protestant Bibles, but it is considered inspired by Catholic scholars.  So if we have time to spend with these words today, we will want to read as much as we can for it contains “numerous maxims, formulated with care, grouped by affinity, an dealing with a variety of subjects . . . It treats of friendship, education, poverty and wealth, the law, religious worship, and many other matters which reflect the religious and social customs of the time . . . Written in Hebrew between 200 and 175 B.C., the text was translated into Greek sometime after 132. B.C. by the author’s grandson, who also wrote a Foreword which contains information about the book, the author, and the translator himself”.  (Senior 822)

The verses we find in this wisdom book are often cited in reference to friendship and this week we are invited to discover the divine in our most intimate relationships as we explore some of the many gems that the author, Jesus son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, has passed to us through the millennia.  He has much to share with us and he wastes no time for beginning in the first chapters we may find the entry way to the understanding and knowledge that lead to God’s Wisdom.

Who alone knows the height of heaven, the breadth of earth, the depth of the abyss? 

Who alone knows all that was even before the creation of Wisdom herself?

Who alone creates?  Who alone pours forth bounty upon his creatures?  Who alone consoles the heart?

Who alone brings gladness, and joy and length of days?

It is the Lord, and fear – or love and awe – of this Lord is the first step in gaining true wisdom, God’s Wisdom. 

When we act in patience, we receive Wisdom.

When we exercise prudence, we receive Wisdom.

When we attend to the revelation of God through scripture – the Torah, and the Prophets – we receive Wisdom. 

Play not the hypocrite before men; over your lips keep watch.  Exalt not yourself lest you fall and bring upon you dishonor.

Portion of Sirach Scroll found at Masada

Portion of Sirach Scroll found at Masada

Nothing is held in secret from Wisdom; indeed, she reveals all before all.

When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.  Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in times of adversity.  Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great. 

In fire is gold tested, and worthy ones in the crucible of humiliation.

Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him. 

Those who love the Lord prepare their hearts and humble themselves before him.  Let us fall into the hands of the Lord and not into the hands of men, for equal to his majesty is the mercy he shows. 

First written on February 13, 2010.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.822. Print.

For more on the author, Jesus ben Sirach, visit: www.humanistictexts.org/bensirach.htm 

For more on the discussion about the legitimacy of The Book of Sirach, click on the image above or go to: 

http://cojs.org/cojswiki/Ben_Sira_Scroll_from_Masada,_73_CE 

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