Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Choice of Violence

Ben Sira, in the book sometimes known as Ecclesiasticus, says this about the freedom of choice:
Do not say, 'The Lord was responsible for my sinning,'
for he does not do what he hates.
Do not say, 'It was he who led me astray,'
for he has no use for a sinner.
The Lord hates all that is foul,
and no one who fears him will love it either.
He himself made human beings in the beginning,
and then left them free to make their own decisions.
If you choose, you will keep the commandments
and so be faithful to his will.
He has set fire and water before you;
put out your hand to whichever you prefer.
A human being has life and death before him;
whichever he prefers will be given him.
He never commanded anyone to be godless,
he has given no one permission to sin.
~Sirach 15: 11-17, 20

Violence has no excuse when human imagination and creativity can find alternatives. God's healing power is upon the wounded of Boston.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Humility by Sirach

The lessons from Ben Sira in the Book of Sirach always perk up my thought processes. One reading of a verse is never enough. Here's part of his advice on humility.
Do not try to understand things that are too difficult for you
or try to discover what is beyond your powers.
Concentrate on what has been assigned to you,
you have no need to worry over mysteries.
Do not meddle with matters that are beyond you;
what you have been taught already exceeds the scope of the human mind.
For many have been misled by their own notions,
wicked presumption having warped their judgement.
~Sirach 3:21-24,

On first reading, the passage feels all wrong and reminds me of days gone by when a man would say to a woman, "Don't you worry your pretty, little head about that, darlin'." Then I remember that Ben Sira was writing for young Jewish men in his classes and trying to give them advice for living.

One way to read this is...what you have in front of you to do is certainly enough to keep your mind busy. Your thoughts don't need to be distracted by "mysteries" (gossip, things happening in other departments, concepts you don't understand). Know your position; concentrate on your position and its concerns. Do not presume to know everything. Be humble; don't jump in until you have more information.

When are you misled by your own notions? Have you ever meddled with matters beyond you? What are your thoughts?

Blessings on your day!