Monday of week 8 of Ordinary Time – First Reading


Sirach 17:24-29
 A call to the sinner to repent and come back to God.
 
There is an implication by the author that the Lord will postpone death for a repentant sinner so that he may fulfil his destiny of praising God on earth. In the light of Christian teaching, the gift of final penitence extends this divine purpose into a life with God that never ends.
 
If we truly repent of the wrong we have done, we can be sure that God’s door is open to receive us back. This is beautifully expressed in Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. A realisation of this should help to dispel any loss of hope which we might have in God’s mercy and compassion.
 
So we are urged to turn back to the Lord, to convert, to pray in his presence, to leave behind our sinful ways and thereby lessen the effects of our wrongdoing. We do that, above all, by totally identifying ourselves with God and hating intensely all that is morally loathsome. 
 
Reflecting the belief of the Jews at the time, the author asks how we can give praise to God once we are in “Hades”, Sheol, the place of the dead.   Sheol was understood as a place of no escape and a place where one could no longer actively serve and love God. For the dead, who may as well not exist, there is no longer the possibility of giving praise to God. It is only those who are alive and well who can sing God’s praises.
 
We believe that, if we die in communion with God, he will take us to himself and we will live in unspeakable happiness with him forever. 
 
How foolish of us, then, to act sinfully instead of spending our lives in the praise and service of God! But there is still time for us to turn away from the wrongs we do and to experience the compassion and the forgiveness of God, which is waiting there for us. Only then can we give God the praise which is his due. We cannot praise God and at the same time act in ways which are contrary to his wishes for us.
 
Now is the time to give praise to God when we have the opportunity. 
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