February 20, 2017
Monday, Week Seven, Year I
Link to readings: Sirach 1:1-10; Psalm 93; Mark 9:14-29
In Genesis God’s story about creation gave us “a version with vision.” Now the Liturgy of the Word invites us to go beyond basic understanding and explore the deep wisdom literature that teaches us to live in this world with “appreciation for spiritual things.”
Sirach is also known as Ecclesiasticus (“church book”) because of the use the early Christians made of it for moral teaching. It was written by Jesus Ben Sira around 180 B.C. In 132 B.C. his grandson translated his Hebrew into Greek. The Christians accepted it in the “canon” or list of inspired books, but after the first century the Jews (and following them the Protestants) did not. Protestant Bibles include it in the “Apocrypha” or “Deuterocanonical Books.” Ben Sira presents it as “wise instruction, appropriate proverbs,” to feed discipleship: “Wise the one who meditates upon these things, who takes them to heart. One who puts them into practice can cope with anything, having the fear of the Lord for a lamp” (51:27).
Sirach 1:1-10 begins by saying, “All wisdom comes from the Lord.” Who would dispute that? But who really believes it? If we really believed it, we would be seeking wisdom where it can be found; in God’s word and in the reflections on God’s word that the saints, “doctors of the Church,” and spiritual writers have handed down to us over the centuries. And in deep reflection and discussions, guided by faith, about our daily experience. But how much time do how many people spend doing this? Who “meditates upon these things?” Who “takes them to heart?”
To live life authentically, “honesty is the best policy.” So let’s begin there: Do you yourself really value “wisdom” at all? True wisdom, that is, that “comes from the Lord”? You value the education that comes from and leads to life in this world. You spent most hours of your day in school for years to acquire it. You certainly do value cultural knowledge. What in your life shows as clearly you value wisdom?
How much of the knowledge you spend your time acquiring has any long-term value? (Unless you are sub-consciously accepting death as the “terminus” of your life). For the life that begins with death, the life we were created for, all of our cultural, technological knowledge will be as useful as a highschool letter jacket to a college student. Or a play toy to an adult. Something that belonged to another life; that has no relevance now.
Forget death. Without the wisdom that comes from God, we can’t even appreciate life in the world around us except in a very superficial way. We have fantastic technology. It makes us more comfortable, healthy and effective both in preserving and destroying lif
e. But all it tells us is how things work; nothing about what they are or what we can become as human persons through the use of them. Wisdom teaches that.
Ben Sira says wisdom is ours for the seeking. The Lord “has poured her forth.... He has lavished her upon his friends.” We know that “in Christ Jesus” the eternal Word of God “became for us wisdom from God.” Wisdom incarnate. Jesus’ words and actions display wisdom before our eyes. How much time do we spend on them? We all recite dutifully at Mass, “The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.”
Meditation: Ask deeply and honestly, “Who is God for me?”
 1Corinthians 1:30.