The citation from Hosea about mercy (Mt 9:13-9:13)

“Go!

Learn what this means!

‘I desire mercy,

Not sacrifice!

I have come

Not to call the righteous,

But sinners.’”

 

πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν· οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς.

 

This response of Jesus is almost the same as in Mark, chapter 2:17, and Luke, chapter 5;31.  Jesus explained that they ought to learn what he means (πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε), because he desired mercy (τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω), and not sacrifices (καὶ οὐ θυσίαν).  This was based on Hosea, chapter 6:6, where the essential message was that Yahweh wanted real faithful love, not mere sacrifices.  Hosea wanted the Israelites to have real knowledge of God, rather than worry about burnt offerings.  Jesus had come not to call the people who were righteous already (γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους), but to call the sinners (ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς).

Problems caused by sinful humans (Sir 40:8-40:11)

“With all human creatures,

With all animal creatures,

But with sinners seven times more,

Come many problems.

There is death.

There is bloodshed.

There is strife.

There is the sword.

There are calamities.

There are famines.

There are afflictions.

There are ruins.

There are plagues.

All these were created

For the wicked.

On their account,

The flood came.

All that is of earth

Returns to earth.

What is from above,

Returns above.”

Sirach points out that all creatures, human and animals, have problems, but the sinners have 7 times as many problems as the non-sinners. What are these problems? They are death, bloodshed, strife, the sword, calamities, famines, ruin, and plagues. The reason that we have all these problems is due to the wicked ones who caused God to send the flood. In other words, we might have been okay except for the sinful humans who brought all these problems to our earthly existence. The things of this earth return to this earth, while the things from above return to above.

The blessings of the Lord (Sir 39:22-39:27)

“His blessing covers the dry land

Like a river.

His blessing drenches it

Like a flood.

But his wrath drives out

The nations.

He has turned a watered land

Into salt.

To the faithful,

His ways are straight.

But they are full of pitfalls

For the wicked.

From the beginning,

Good things were created

For the good.

But for the sinners,

Bad things.

The basic necessities of human life are

Water,

Fire,

Iron,

Salt,

Wheat flour,

Milk,

Honey,

The blood of the grape,

Oil,

And clothing.

All these are good

For the godly.

But for the sinners,

They turn into evils.”

Sirach remarks that the Lord’s blessing is a like a river on dry land or a drenching flood. However, he drives out countries with his wrath, as he has turned watered land into salt. The ways of the faithful are straight, but the wicked have all kinds of obstacles that they fall into. God created the good things, but the sinners get bad things. Then Sirach explained the basic necessities of life. I wonder if we would name all the same stuff. He had water, fire, iron, salt, wheat flour, milk, honey, grapes, oil, and clothing. These were good for the godly but evil for the sinners. In other words, you attitude towards them made them either good or bad.

Fear of the Lord and wisdom (Sir 15:1-15:8)

“Whoever fears the Lord

Will do this.

Whoever holds to the law

Will obtain wisdom.

Wisdom will come to meet him

Like a mother.

She will be

Like a young bride.

She will welcome him.

She will feed him

With the bread of learning.

She will give him

The water of wisdom to drink.

He will lean on her.

He will not fall.

He will rely on her.

He will not be put to shame.

She will exalt him

Above his neighbors.

She will open his mouth

In the midst of the assembly.

He will find gladness.

He will find a crown of rejoicing.

He will inherit an everlasting name.

The foolish will not obtain her.

Sinners will not see her.

She is far from arrogance.

Liars will never think of her.”

Anyone who fears the Lord will have a chance at wisdom. They must hold firmly and follow the law in order to get wisdom. Then wisdom will come to meet them like a mother or a young bride. Clearly wisdom is feminine as a mother or wife. The food and drink of the wise person will be the bread of learning and the water of wisdom. These people can lean on wisdom so that they will not fall or be put to shame. They will be exalted above their neighbors because they will open their mouths in the assembly of the elders. They will find gladness with a rejoicing crown and an everlasting name. The foolish and the sinners cannot obtain or see wisdom. Wisdom stays away from arrogance. Liars never think about wisdom, since she is reserved for those who fear the Lord.

Help good people (Sir 12:1-12:7)

“If you do good,

Know to whom you do it.

You will be thanked

For your good deeds.

Do good to the devout.

You will be repaid.

If not by them,

Certainly by the Most High.

No good comes to the one

Who persists in evil.

No good comes to the one

Who does not give alms.

Give to the devout.

But do not help the sinner.

Do good to the humble.

But do not give to the ungodly.

Hold back their bread.

Do not give it to them.

By means of it,

They might subdue you.

Then you will receive

Twice as much evil

For all the good

You have done to them.

The Most High also hates sinners.

He will inflict punishment

On the ungodly.

Give to the one who is good.

But do not help the sinner.”

Sirach warns that you should help the good people, but not the ungodly or the sinners. You should know who you are helping. They will thank you for what you are doing. If you help the devout, they will repay you. Even if they don’t, the Most High God will repay you. The persistent evil doers are compared to those who do not give alms. You should help the devout, but not the sinners. Help the humble, but not the ungodly. Don’t give bread to the sinners and the ungodly, because they might subdue you. You might end up with twice as much evil for all the good that you did. The Most High God does not like sinners so he will punish them. Simply put, give to the good people and not the sinners.

Wisdom and the commandments (Sir 1:25-1:27)

“In the treasuries of wisdom

Are wise sayings.

But godliness is an abomination to a sinner.

If you desire wisdom,

Keep the commandments.

The Lord will lavish her upon you.

Fear of the Lord is wisdom.

Fear of the Lord is discipline.

Fidelity is his delight.

Humility is his delight.”

If you have wisdom, you will have the treasures of many wise sayings. Of course, the sinners do not like godliness. If you want wisdom, keep the commandments. Sirach clearly ties law and the commandments to wisdom and the fear of the Lord, since there is a strong tie between all of them. With this fear of God you will have wisdom and discipline. The Lord will delight in your fidelity and humility.

The path of Yahweh (Ps 25:8-25:10)

Tet      

“Good and upright is Yahweh.

Therefore he instructs sinners in his way.

Yod     

He leads the humble in what is right.

He teaches the humble his way.

Koph  

All the paths of Yahweh

Are steadfast love,

All the paths of Yahweh

Are faithfulness,

For those who keep his covenant

For those who keep his decrees.”

The answer is simple. Yahweh is good and upright. He instructs the sinners and the humble. He leads the humble because the paths of Yahweh are full of steadfast love and faithfulness. Those who keep his covenant and his decrees will have no problem because of Yahweh’s help.