Fear and dread she brings upon him. (Sirach 4:17)
From time to time, you may hear someone say that theyve 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 todays first reading. We read that wisdom doesnt come automatically. Rather, its 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, its a narrow, rocky, even dangerous path (Matthew 7:14).
This can sound frightening, but the fear and dread that Sirach mentions isnt meant to stop us cold (Sirach 4:17). Its meant to keep us moving forward. This isnt a fear of Gods wrath. Its a fear that we may disappoint a heavenly Father who loves us so deeply. Its 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, its his fathers 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 wisdomeven 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.
Psalm 119:165, 168, 171-172, 174-175; Mark 9:38-40