The book of Wisdom, Sirach and Baruch are among the 7 books unique to the Catholic bible and bibles in Eastern Christianity and were in the Gutenberg Bible which was written prior to the reformation.
Wisdom contrasts the destinies of the wicked and the righteous, emphasizes moral not physical fruitfulness (Wisdom 1-2) and points out (like in Job and even Matthew) that suffering does NOT presuppose sin. “Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.” Wisdom 3:5. In fact, an untimely death may be a righteous person’s rescue from the wickedness of life. “But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish to be dead, and their passing away was thought an affliction, and their going forth from us, utter destruction, but they are in peace.”
Other concepts in Wisdom are that immortality is not an inherent quality of human nature, but the result of the union of human nature with wisdom (Wisdom 8 13-17). The second half of the book is an address acclaiming the glories of wisdom. It is here that we find the personification of Wisdom mentioned in Proverbs. Throughout this book, Wisdom is referred to as “the Spirit of the Lord.”
Sirach is another book in the “wisdom books” series in the Catholic bible which include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Son of Songs, Wisdom and Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus). Chapters 1-43 deal with moral instruction. Some directives in Sirach include teachings on generosity, forgiveness and placing false hope in possessions. These sentiments are also paralleled in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Sirach has been used to help the Catholic community find their identity at the crossroads of traditional religion and contemporary culture.
Baruch is one of the prophetic books included with Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel and so on. Baruch, like Tobit and Wisdom are appropriate for people who are separated or lost physically or emotionally from their natural environment. It can help them get established and going in the right direction again, at peace with God and their neighbors. When we are lost, Baruch imparts a sense of a) prayer (whatever the situation we can turn to God); b) biblical traditions for grounding; c) hope that the odds are not too strong against us; d) strength so that we can avoid throwing caution and dignity to the winds of foreign subculture; e) realism helping us to come to practical terms with life where we are and f) humility which gives us strategies to remove guilt without projecting it elsewhere.
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