Posts Tagged ‘Luke 19:43’

Saturday, December 17, 2011 – Sirach 36:1-17 – The Ends of the Earth

The New American Bible labels this portion of Sirach as A Prayer for God’s People; it seems to be an invocation against enemies; it is a cry for help.  I am uncomfortable with verses that ask God to rain down violence on those who harm us.  Perhaps I have begun to let Jesus’ words filter into my bone and marrow.  Maybe, just maybe, I am beginning to live the words I have listened to for so long: But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?   Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:45-48)

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.   If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?Even “sinners” love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?   Even “sinners” lend to “sinners,” expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them,and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High,because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Luke 6:27-35)

Jesus warns us that our enemies will be members of our own household (Matthew 10:36).  Our enemies will build bulwarks against us and do all they can to destroy us.  They will encircle us and hem us in on every side.  (Luke 19:43)  Yet we need not plan an attack against them.  All we need to is stand in and with God . . . and in God’s time and in God’s way, the enemies of the faithful will come to know that God is great and God is good. 

With these words, Sirach counsels us that we keep ourselves safe from destruction not by building parapets against battalions of evils; rather, we survive pain and sorrow by turning to God in hope.

With these verses, Sirach advises us that we keep ourselves secure from annihilation not by preempting evil or by attempting to outrun wickedness; rather, we endure pain and suffering by holding firm in our faith that God turns all evil to good.

With this prayer of the people, Sirach encourages us to turn to God in prayer for all things; and in this way God’s graciousness, compassion and glory will be known to the very ends of the earth.

And so we pray . . .

Good and gentle God, you have told us so many times that you will keep us from harm; yet we forget in our anxiety.

Good and kind God, you have accompanied us through heartache and loss; yet we forget in our grief.

Good and knowing God, you always offer a new opportunity to know you; yet we forget in our shame.

Good and gracious God, you remind us that love conquers evil; yet we forget in our anger.

Keep us with you.  Keep us true to you.  Remind us of the lessons you teach in the stories of the Good News so that thus it will be ever known to the ends of the earth that you are the eternal God.  Amen. 

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