Saint Rita of Cascia, Religious
“Fear and dread she brings upon him.” (Sirach 4:17)
Sirach 4:11-19;Psalm 119:165, 168, 171-172, 174-175; Mark 9:38-40
From time to time, you may hear someone say that they’ve been through “the school of hard knocks.” It may be a businessman who has fought his way up the ladder to become a success. It may be an athlete who has trained hard to be the best at his sport, or an actor who played minor roles for years before being recognized as a great talent. If you asked any one of these people where they learned the most, they would all say it came through the challenges involved in reaching their goals.
A similar concept is at work in today’s first reading. We read that wisdom doesn’t come automatically. Rather, it’s tested and proved in day-to-day life (Sirach 4:17). Sirach compares “Lady Wisdom” to a teacher who is more concerned about teaching us valuable lessons and less concerned about being our friend. She teaches us that the way of wisdom is not always an easy road. Sometimes, in fact, it’s a narrow, rocky, even dangerous path (Matthew 7:14).
This can sound frightening, but the “fear and dread” that Sirach mentions isn’t meant to stop us cold (Sirach 4:17). It’s meant to keep us moving forward. This isn’t a fear of God’s wrath. It’s a fear that we may disappoint a heavenly Father who loves us so deeply. It’s the same kind of fear that a young man leaving home has to make his own way in the world. The last thing he wants to do is let down his father, who has supported him and taught him and helped him so very much. He wants to make his father proud, so he works extra hard. And when he encounters obstacles, it’s his father’s love and words of encouragement that see him through.
How do you see your heavenly Father? Is he a taskmaster waiting to punish you for every misdeed? Or is he your teacher, your advocate, your coach, and your support? Better still, what are you afraid of? Letting him down, or getting into trouble? Your Father loves you. He wants to give you his wisdom—even through the school of hard knocks. May we all learn his ways. May we all embrace his love.
“Teach me your ways, Lord! May my heart be open to whatever you would say, and may your word be the light that illumines my path.”~WAU