Spirituality

We are all called to Christian spirituality.  Spirituality is not a monastic reality only.  The contemplative must be down to earth.  You need spirituality in your work.  The need for spiritual nourishment goes with a dynamic, growing and changing relationship with God.  You need to read scripture, do personal study, attend retreats and renewal experiences within small faith communities.  Our spiritual life, our interior life, our very existence needs the life-giving element of prayer.

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Manual work versus wisdom (Sir 38:24-38:26)

“The wisdom of the scribe

Depends on the opportunity

Of leisure.

Only the one who has little business

Can become wise.

How can one become wise

Who handles the plow?

How can one become wise

Who glories in the shaft of a goad?

How can one become wise

Who drives oxen?

How can one become wise

Who is occupied with their work?

How can one become wise

Whose talk is about bulls?

He sets his heart on plowing furrows.

He is careful about fodder

For the heifers.”

Sirach recognizes that you cannot be a wise writer if you do not have leisure time. If you are doing business deals, you do not have time for wisdom. Most people were too busy with getting their oxen moving a plow, in the good old days before John Deere tractors. If you are occupied with your work in the fields, and taking care of bulls and heifers, how would you have any leisure time to be wise?

Give to others (Sir 14:15-14:19)

“Will you not leave

The fruit of your labors

To another?

What you acquired by toil

Is to be divided by lot.

Give!

Take!

Indulge yourself!

Because in Hades,

One cannot look for luxury.

All living beings become old

Like a garment.

The decree from of old is.

‘You must die!’

Like abundant leaves

On a spreading tree

That sheds some leaves,

But that puts forth others,

So are the generations

Of flesh and blood.

One dies.

Another is born.

Every work decays.

Every work ceases to exist.

The one who made it

Will pass away with it.”

After all is said and done, you will leave the results of your work to others either by chance or design. Thus give and take things. Indulge yourself, because you will not be able to enjoy luxuries after your death in Hades, the afterlife underworld. Everyone is like an old garment that is wearing out. Like leaves on a tree, some are falling off, while others are blooming. Life is full of people who are either dying and or being born. Every work decays and ceases to exist. So too will the person who made these things pass away.

Trust in the Lord (Sir 11:20-11:22)

“Stand by your agreement!

Attend to it! Grow old in your work! Do not wonder

At the works of a sinner! Trust in the Lord!

Keep at your job!

It is easy in the sight of the Lord

To suddenly make

The poor become rich,

In an instant.

The blessing of the Lord

Is the reward of the pious.

Quickly God causes his blessings to flourish.”

You should trust in the Lord. Keep and attend to your agreements. Grow old at your work. Stay at your job. Do not wonder about the works of sinners. The Lord can make a poor man rich instantaneously. The blessing of the Lord is the reward for the pious ones. He can make his blessings flourish.

Enjoy your wealth (Eccl 5:18-5:20)

“This is what I have seen to be good.

It is fitting is to eat and drink.

It is fitting to find enjoyment

In all the toil

With which one toils under the sun

The few days of the life

That God gives us.

This is our lot.

Likewise,

God gives wealth.

God gives possessions.

He enables them to enjoy them.

They should accept their lot.

They should find enjoyment

In their toil.

This is the gift of God.

They will scarcely brood

Over the days of their life

Because God keeps them occupied

With joy in their hearts.”

Qoheleth finally found something good. It was appropriate to eat and drink. You should find enjoyment in your work when you toil under the sun. God has given you a few days to enjoy all this. This is your lot in life, accept it. You may have wealth and possession, so enjoy them. Enjoy your work and any wealth that comes with it as a gift from God. Do not brood over the few days you have here on earth because God can keep you occupied with joy in your heart.

The role of humnas (Prov 16:1-16:4)

“The plans of the mind belong to mortals.

But the answer of the tongue is from Yahweh.

All one’s ways may be pure

In one’s own eyes.

But Yahweh weighs the spirit.

Commit your work to Yahweh.

Then your plans will be established.

Yahweh has made everything for its purpose,

Even the wicked for the day of trouble.”

Does God control everything? Humans have plans, but sometimes the answer of Yahweh is different. You may plan pure things in your own eyes, but Yahweh looks at the spirit. You have to commit your work to Yahweh so that he will then establish your plans. Yahweh has a purpose for everything, even the wicked are part of Yahweh’s plans.