Have you ever felt a bit divided, conflicted or torn in two? The scriptures today provide one reason why that might be so!
The reading from the book of Sirach, together with the psalm (103), seem to provide an extended commentary on the Book of Genesis’ description of the creation of the human being. Far more than the recording of the “fact” of creation, that we have been created in the image and likeness of God, these scriptures plumb the depths of the mystery of human life.
Sirach describes at great length the majesty of the human being, endowed by God with countless gifts, gifts that truly make us “human”: the gift of counsel, an “inventive heart,” understanding, knowledge and wisdom. Truly, the human being is the pinnacle of all that God has made. And yet, with great directness, Sirach describes the human dilemma: “Limited days of life he gives him, with power over all things else on earth.” The human being has been given power over all things; yet, that power only lasts for limited days. The pain of being human is to taste limitlessness and yet to be, at the same time, bound by limits.
The Psalm, while acknowledging that same dilemma, depicts the Creator, intimately connected with us, knowing us and remembering “that we are dust.” And, what is the stance of the Creator towards this creature, so majestic and yet so fragile? “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” God is described as one who “suffers with” this creature.
Christian faith teaches us that the pinnacle of this compassion is Jesus, born in our flesh, put to death and raised up to give us life. Jesus promises that if we accept him into our limited lives, we will find what we most desire: life without end.
Where are you divided today? Where have your limits frustrated
you recently? There, precisely there, in those divisions and limits,
we are invited to look to find the compassion of God, Jesus, in
our flesh, giving us life.
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