Our selections in our liturgy from the Book of Sirach end today with an old man’s reflections on growing in faith from his childhood. Far from the drudgery of rote learning, Sirach saw it take place in prayer and celebrating the Jewish feasts, bringing him wisdom and joy:
“When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer. I prayed for her before the temple and I will seek her until the end…My heart delighted in her, my feet kept to the level path because I was familiar with her.”
The journey of faith begins from childhood. Fortunate are those who, like Sirach, get to know faith from the beginning of their lives and never cease to be instructed in her “secrets”. They will keep to the right path.
Sirach, “Ecclesiasticus”, was a staple source for the catechesis of the early Christian church. You can see why. The learning Sirach describes is not knowing short questions and answers and then you got it. Catechesis, as you see in Sirach, is a introduction to the mystery of God, which begins from childhood and carries on until the end. It’s not a lesson in human behavior. It’s a prayerful search into what was, what is and what ever shall be. It goes far beyond the human world.
It’s learning by doing, and blessed are those who meet with this kind of “great instruction”.
“Saint” Sirach pray for us and may we follow your example.