First Reading: Sirach 50:22-24

Bless the Lord!

22 And now, bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people's growth from their mother's womb,
and fashions them according to his will!
23 May he grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you;
24 May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days.

New American Bible

The author Ben Sirach wrote before the Maccabean revolt in 167-164 B.C. He wrote for students training to be part of the religious and civil bureaucracy in Jerusalem while the country was under the rule of a Greek dynasty in Syria. Despite the authoritarian rule of the Greeks, the author directed his students to remain faithful to God while maintaining justice for the populace.

This blessing prayer came at the end of a worship service, led by the high priest Simon, son of Onias. The short blessing praised God for his creation and his mercy. Then it asked for joy and peace. And it finished with a petition for salvation.

Like Ben Sirach, we live in a culture that is driven by some values that are alien to ours. But even in such tension, we still have many blessings. And we have a great need to thank God for his creation and his mercy, for the joy and salvation he brings.

Make a list of things to thank God for. After you make that list, number them in importance. Which of the items rise to the top of the list. Why are they at the top? How does that list help you to appreciate God's activity in your life?