Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
June 3, 2023
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our final passage from the Book of Sirach. We will read Sirach only five or six times again scattered throughout the liturgical year.
In today’s reading, Sirach offers a grateful reflection on the early blessing of wisdom and pursuit of holiness in his life.
I thank the LORD and I praise him;Sirach 51:13-14
I bless the name of the LORD.
When I was young and innocent,
I sought wisdom openly in my prayer
I prayed for her before the temple…
Sirach’s prayer will resonate with many of us whose earliest days were blessed with faithful parents and grandparents. These wisdom figures taught us to love and seek God in our lives. As we pray today, we think of them with gratitude, as well as of the many teachers who guided our young spirits into God’s Light.
Even if we have moved far from the parish church of our youth, we may recall the graces we received within her walls. We might prayerfully recollect our beloved grade school and high school where we were guided in the pursuit of a meaningful and reverent life.
Hopefully, our prayer brings us to realize how blessed we have been from the beginning of our lives. This is the kind of prayer Sirach prays in today’s reading. He is filled with gratitude and praise because he understands that it is all a gratuitous and undeserved blessing:
My heart delighted in Wisdom,Sirach 51:15-17
My feet kept to the level path
because from earliest youth I was familiar with her.
In the short time I paid heed,
I met with great instruction.
Since in this way I have profited,
I will give my teacher grateful praise.
Sirach’s prayer brings him to that still and holy place deep in his heart — that place where he touches the Wisdom of God. He describes it like this:
I sought Wisdom openly in my prayerSirach 51:13-15
I prayed for her before the temple,
and I will seek her until the end,
and she flourished as a grape soon ripe.
Many of us are so busy and intent on living our lives forward – trying to make it through this day to the next. We may not take the time to consider and appreciate the “ripe grape” our life has already become.
I look around me in our convent chapel and realize that I am living with holy people. Of course, like me, they have their personal twists and trademarks. Still each one of them has walked through their roundabout years into the heart of God. Every day they live into a deeper goodness – aging like fine wine, unaware that the grape has already ripened and is blessing the world around them.
The Great Vintner accomplishes this holy transformation in us by a slow accumulation of blessings which saturate our hearts in God. Pausing, like Sirach, to recognize and give thanks fills us with generous gratitude and a confident courage for the days to come.
Take time to look at the holy people in your own life today, the ones through whom God’s Wisdom has poured into your life. They are the ones who love you into a better person by their goodness, honesty, humility, and generosity. You meet them in your family, friends and workplace. Or you may have met them only in a book, poem, song or story.
Poetry: Our Responsorial Psalm 19 today beautifully complements Sirach’s prayer and can serve as a perfect poetic refletion for us.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
Awe of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
Music: Psalm 19 – Jess Ray