(Sirach 5:1-8; Mark 9:41-50)
There is an old story about divine Providence that may enlighten today’s reading from Sirach. Once in the midst of a terrible storm a man was stranded on top of his roof as the waters rose around him. He prayed for help and indeed a boat came by, but the man refused to get in saying that the Lord would rescue him. The man eventually drowned. Going before the Almighty, he asked why he was not saved. The Lord replied with the question what the man thought was the purpose of that boat which came by.
The reading warns humans about self-reliance. They should not trust completely in their own wealth, power, or strength. But this advice should not be taken to mean that one’s wealth, power, and strength are worthless. God may have provided them so that the person could withstand difficult times. In any case people should pray for guidance, but they should also realize that God might test their love by not always giving them what they ask.
We must never forget that God loves us more dearly than a mother, her infant. He will see us through any storm even though not necessarily in the ways we foresee. We show our trust in Him by prayer, by using wisely the resources available, and by accepting what develops as His will.