Ecclesiasticus is one of the books which was familiar to Jews and Christians in the decades following the resurrection of Jesus.
It is part of the canon of Scripture recognised by Catholic and Orthodox Christians, and included in the ‘Old Testament’. However it is not included in the Jewish canon of Scripture.
In the passage heard this Sunday the value of human goodness is affirmed, as is human ability to choose the good – almost, it can seem, without reference to God.
Except of course, that God is the very ground of all that is. ‘Natural’ law, and indeed ‘nature’ itself, are not realities independent of God and grace – nothing ‘is’ that does not have its source and meaning in God. God is the very ground of Being.
God made us for the good. When we seek that good, even if we do not know God, then we seek that which helps fulfil our being and our purpose. And when we do this then, even unknowing, we cooperate with God’s purpose and will..
First reading: Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21
If you wish, you can keep the commandments,
to behave faithfully is within your power.
He has set fire and water before you;
put out your hand to whichever you prefer.
Man has life and death before him;
whichever a man likes better will be given him.
For vast is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is almighty and all-seeing.
His eyes are on those who fear him,
he notes every action of man.
He never commanded anyone to be godless,
he has given no one permission to sin.
Translation of Scriptures: From The Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd
Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
Photo (c) 2014, Allen Morris. Old Synagogue Museum, Cracow, Poland.