The Book of Sirach, from which we will be reading for the next two weeks at our celebration of the Eucharist, was written approximately 200 years before Christ. It was written by a scribe in Jerusalem in Hebrew. However, it was translated into Greek shortly thereafter. Because the Hebrew manuscript was not available when the Jewish canon was formed, this book was omitted from the Hebrew Scriptures and, consequently, from the Protestant Old Testament. However, it is recognized as part of the Catholic canon of Scriptures. The full title of the book is "The Wisdom of Ben Sira," or "The Wisdom of Yeshua Ben Sira." (The author, therefore, shares his name with Jesus of Nazareth.)
The work is discursive and cannot be conveniently divided into chapters or sections. It is filled with maxims or proverbs that help us to lead a life of right relationship with God and neighbor. Because it appears so late in Jewish history, it mirrors some of the teachings of Jesus who appeared on the scene fewer than 200 years later.
Today's selection sings of the beauty of Wisdom.
We also return to the Gospel of Mark today as we take up the consecutive readings of the Gospels during Ordinary Time. Jesus reminds us of the necessity of having faith in prayer. He drives out an evil spirit from an epileptic and restores him to his family. Coming on the heels of the Feast of Pentecost, this reading reminds us that the people of the Mediterranean world believed that the world was filled with both good and evil spirits. This episode reminds us that through our baptism, we have been filled with the Holy Spirit.