First Reading: Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
The Call of Humility
12 Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it;
and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice;
for the Lord is the judge,
and with him is no partiality.
13 He will not show partiality in the case of a poor man;
and he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.
14 He will not ignore the supplication of the fatherless,
nor the widow when she pours out her story.
16 He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted,
and his prayer will reach to the clouds.
17 The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds,
and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord;
he will not desist until the Most High visits him,
and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgment.
18 And the Lord will not delay,
neither will he be patient with them,
till he crushes the loins of the unmerciful
and repays vengeance on the nations;
till he takes away the multitude of the insolent,
and breaks the scepters of the unrighteous.
Revised Standard Version
The Book of Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus) was penned about 180 B.C. in Jerusalem. The book acted as a text for young wealthy students instructing them in the ways of wisdom.
Sirach revealed the status of the Jewish capital under Syrian domination. Society was polarized. Rich vs. poor. Jew vs. Gentile. The powerful vs. the weak. Sirach's proverbs and general advice sought to guide the reader's conduct through such tenuous times.
One of the areas where public behavior and private disposition merged was Temple worship. How should one offer sacrifice? This was not a simple matter. Because of the direct intervention of the Syrian overlords in the affairs of the Temple, many people held worship there as suspect, even comprised. In addition, some of the city's rich and powerful abused their station, offering worship for show while oppressing the poor and helpless. Others used the public arena of Temple worship to advance themselves and their agenda. Many of the underclass believed worship at the Temple had become merely a show ritual that paid lip service to Yahweh.
Sirach tried to adjust the view of the rich. He instructed his reader to look at worship through the eyes of God. What sort of sacrifice would please him? A humble heart. For humility allows one to treat others the way God treats them. Without partiality. No bribe or show of piety can replace the humble heart. [12-14] God hears the prayer of the humble, those who place him first in life. He will answer despite any delay. [16-18]
How will we worship? The more secular the world becomes, the less pretense we need to worship. But that lack of pretense does not relieve us from the call of humility. Worship demands that we place ourselves fully before God. Not to brag or manipulate God. But to simply be as creature with our Creator.
Take time to simple be with God. What is he telling you in your heart?