December 17, 2009

What spiritual freedom is all about


I have a great story to share with you today, dear readers. It’s a simple quote, but it truly speaks volumes about what freedom, in a spiritual sense, is all about. But please allow me a few lines to introduce the Source and Author (both not very well-known).

The Book of Ecclesiasticus, also known as The Book of Sirach or Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, or the Wisdom of Ben Sira, is a work from the early second century BC, originally written in Hebrew (but afterwards translated into Greek, by another Jesus, the grandson of the author). It is not in the Jewish canon, but is received as canonical and divine by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and most Oriental Orthodox, but not by most Protestants.

Ecclesiasticus is a collection of ethical teachings. Thus it closely resembles Proverbs, except that, unlike the latter, it is the work of a single author, not an anthology of maxims drawn from various sources. Many of the teachings are advices and instructions as to the duties of man toward himself and others, as well as toward society and the state, and most of all toward God. One of them is the one I have chosen for today. I love it for its essentiality and effectiveness:

Do not say, ‘The Lord was responsible for my sinning,’ for he does not do what he hates. Do not say, ‘It was he who led me astray,’ for he has no use for a sinner. The Lord hates all that is foul, and no one who fears him will love it either. He himself made human beings in the beginning, and then left them free to make their own decisions. If you choose, you will keep the commandments and so be faithful to his will. He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer. A human being has life and death before him; whichever he prefers 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 human action. He never commanded anyone to be godless, he has given no one permission to sin.
[Ecclesiasticus: 15, 11-20]

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First written for The Metaphysical Peregrine

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