For the last week or so we have been reading from the Book of Sirach at Mass. It’s always helpful to look into the background of the books of scripture and ask when, for whom, and why were they written.
The Book of Sirach was written by a Jewish sage in Jerusalem around 200 BC in Hebrew and was translated into Greek sometime later, scholars say. It seems to me authors like Sirach were people who loved their Jewish tradition and wanted to pass on its wisdom to a generation that might be saying: “We don’t see anything in it for us any more.”
Is the Book of Sirach a grandfather’s attempt to speak to grandchildren abandoning their own tradition as they experience a powerful Greco-Roman influence on the world of their time? If so, do we have to do what Sirach did?
That would mean, first, to love our religious tradition ourselves and, second, to have the wise words and deeds to make it known and appealing to others. The scriptures are not only to be read, they’re to be imitated.