Monday, February 25, 2019
Sir 1:1-10; Mk 9:14-29
Before all else, Wisdom was created.
Sirach is a nice enough book. It’s not Ben Sira’s fault that, by the time he is writing, Job has gotten long in the tooth, and the fire of the prophets has been reduced to embers. It’s the end of an age, Greek in the ascendancy, on the threshold of the New Testament. The best thing is the portrait of Wisdom, the Greek feminine "Sophia," who is waiting for her Christian interpretation. The gender is not a problem! There’s more than one icon of Jesus as womanly Wisdom, including a stunning version by modern iconographer William Hart McNichols. (See Christ All Merciful.) Eternal, all-knowing, all-flowing, "It is the LORD; he created her through the Holy Spirit, has seen her and taken note of her. He has poured her forth upon all his works"
Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O Lord!
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Sir 2:1-11; Mk 9:30-37
For in fire gold and silver are tested, and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation.
A friend of mine just took up knitting and is already taking orders for sweaters, afghans and scarves on Facebook. The Book of Sirach is not much different, a warm and roomy comforter. “You who fear the Lord, love him, and your hearts will be enlightened.” Don’t worry, be happy. Everything’s gonna be alright. “Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not; thus will you be wise in all your ways.” It’s nice to know the Bible can be so user-friendly. Even humiliation does not sound so bad. Lent will begin in about a week, and we will get daily challenges to everything we hold dear. Meanwhile, we get this: “Has anyone hoped in the Lord and been disappointed?”
We take delight in you, O Lord, who grant all our heart’s requests!
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Sir 4:11-19; Mk 9:38-40
Whoever loves Wisdom loves life; those who seek her will be embraced by the Lord.
For Ben Sira, if Wisdom is a woman, so she is a mother! “Wisdom breathes life into her children.” Here in Honduras, where I live, and perhaps where you live as well, the wisdom of women is even physical. At a gathering of, say, the Legion of Mary, a big woman sits down, and her lap becomes a sofa where a kid or even two nestle like newborns. Her words, in prayer or comment, “reveal her secrets” to us. There’s no greater secret than the love God has for us. A mother may “discipline” us for a time, but “then she comes back to bring us happiness.” It is a full measure! “She will heap upon us treasures of knowledge and an understanding of justice.” Let us bask in the glow!
My lips pour forth your praise, O Lord, because you teach me your ways!
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Sir 5:1-8; Mk 9:41-50
Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day.
Now Ben Sira is hitting close to home! I do not deny my sinfulness, or my sins, but I do seem to put God’s forgiveness in the “plus” column rather quickly. Not so fast, says Ben Sira: “Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin.” Because “God’s name is mercy,” as Pope Francis says, I might forget that my name is mud as long as I treat God like a sugar daddy. Maybe the best way to appreciate forgiveness is to practice it myself, not with conditions like “I forgive, but I don’t forget,” or “I’ll forgive, but they have to be sorry first.” As Ben Sira says, “Say not, ‘I have the power.’” He warns us not to be “deceitful.” Indeed, the one we deceive most often is ourselves.
Blessed are we, O Lord, to meditate on your law, day and night.