Sirach is a lengthy “letter” of advice to a son setting out into the world, perhaps; it is among the Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Testament. Ben Sirach is steeped in the corporal works of mercy. one can not share the works of mercy with the people to encourage them in their faith, especially in our times so lacking in mercy.

If God is so partial to the poor, the weak, and the oppressed, well, then so ought we. For some strange reason, in our culture of individualism and independence, it’s twisted to be just Jesus and ME, the enormous white Western ego self.

God doesn’t hear our prayers because we don’t serve God but ourselves. We are the Pharisee in the Gospel. A question I heard recently at a clergy day was this. Am I working for God or am I doing God’s work? There is a difference. Working for God implies that I’m still doing my own thing and doing it my way. It’s like being pastor, and I follow all the rules and regulations of the big blue book, but I do them with my own style, personality, and emphasis or not on one thing or the other. God’s work is different as it is the giving of self over to a higher will and purpose than my own.

This concept of no partiality then also shows up several times in the Acts of the Apostles and in the epistles as a new realization for the Jewish apostles as they enter into the Graeco-Roman world and minister to the nations. The Church still has much to learn and correct itself in this practice and realization.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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