Friday the 8th Week of Ordinary Time
Sirach 44: 1, 9-13, Mark 11:11-26
The Book of Sirach comes to a close with a hymn honoring the ancestors of Israel. The eulogy serves as a vehicle for telling the stories that made the People of Israel who they are. Two sets of people are memorialized: the famous and the unnamed. Ben Sira’s recollections, like family stories, are precious treasures that stir something in our souls. Countless people whose names are lost to us have lived down through the ages. They raised families and passed on their family traditions. By retelling the stories, we can connect with our ancient roots. As we reflect on the stories, we are exposed to the faith experiences of old. The people have died, and the places they inhabited may no longer be found on a map, but their stories live on in the heart of the community.
Our ancestors in the faith are important because through them we have come to know God. Their names may have passed into oblivion, but their journey is the stuff of which our lives are made. The men and women of old have left behind a rich inheritance of faith and tradition without which we would not be the people we are today. The reflections of Ben Sira bring us face to face with the joys and the hopes, the griefs, and the anxieties of our ancestors in the faith. As we ponder their stories, we come to realize how deep the roots of our ancient faith go. Stories and remembrances are the lifeblood of a community. The stories shape and maintain our identity as a people loved by God. It is essential that we remember the community’s early struggles, as well as the difficulties and dangers it overcame. As important as it is to remember their triumphs and accomplishments, their tragedies, and disasters, it is more important to remember the people who experienced them. By retelling their stories, we remind ourselves of who we are. We strive to remember what makes us unique. By faithfully clinging to the stories, we shape our present as well as our future.
Because we are a people of remembrance, we gather around the Table of the Lord to offer the Divine Majesty a sacrifice of praise. We raise our voices in hymns of praise because he is ever faithful and true. We take pleasure in Him because He takes pleasure in us. He has adorned us with the graces of his Spirit and enables us to bear his image and rejoice in his happiness all the days of our life.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flashed, blazed, banished my blindness;
You breathed your fragrance on me,
I gasped, and now I pant for you;
I have tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.