First Reading:  Sirach 27:4-7

Judging Others

4 I lived in high places,

And my throne is in the pillar of the cloud.

5 Alone I compassed the circuit of heaven,

And I walked in the depth of the abyss.

6  In the waves of the sea, and in all the earth,

And in every people and nation, I got a possession.

7 With all these I sought rest;

And in whose inheritance shall I lodge?

World English Bible

The book of Sirach (also known as "Ecclesiasticus" from the Latin Vulgate) was written by Jeshua ben Eleazar ben Sira in the early second century, BC. Jeshua wrote in Alexandria, Egypt, where a large Jewish population lived. Because the Jewish population was native (second generation and beyond), they had lost Hebrew and adopted Greek as a native language. While the book was originally written in Hebrew, it was quickly translated into Greek and found its way into the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament.

The book is a collection of wise sayings useful for teaching ethics to the young. Written in the first person, the book extolled the Hebrew traditions. These factors indicate the writing was possibly used as a text book in religious schools found in the Jewish quarter of Alexandria.

The passage was quite clear. Strangers should be tested, not trusted. To find the true worth of a person takes time. Listening, not engagement, was the method of approaching someone new.

Sirach was honored in the early Church as a guide to life. It still has that power.

What does it take for you to trust others? How is testing others different from criticizing them?