“…when he made them he precisely determined their portions. He arranged his works in an eternal order, and their dominion for all generations; they neither hunger nor grow weary, and they do not cease from their labors…they will never disobey his word.”
Sirach 16:26-28

We might not think much about our home as something to rule. The very word ‘rule’ seems out of place here; it smacks of being over-bearing and oppressive. Isn’t our home too intimate and personal to be a subject for ruling?

But what if ‘ruling’ properly understood and exercised–especially in the household–is the precondition for human flourishing in all its personal intimacy?

The writings of the Jewish scribe Ben Sira (died circa 175 B.C.) present the cosmos as a masterpiece of order. This order is the fruit of a highly intentional and precise arrangement by God the creator. This arrangement evidences an astounding attention to detail in which everything has its proper place and role.

A closer look at this order, as well as at the writings of Ben Sira, reveal God’s rule of the cosmos as essentially a profound and intimate care for persons. It is a care that encompasses many things other than persons, yet always in view of the flourishing of persons.

Just like right rule in a household.

The trees and beasts, rivers and mountains, and stars and planets all pursue their courses in regular harmony because someone has deigned so to arrange it. And lo, we discover the cosmos perfectly fit to be a ‘home’ to human persons. Further, it shows itself to be a context that elicits and encourages the highest reaches of human accomplishment and happiness.

The cosmic harmony unfolds with such ‘natural’ ease that the ruling behind it might be little noticed, or even altogether missed. But at the very core of that ruling of the cosmos, is a pattern and a call to us: to form microcosms, or micro-cosmoses.

Each and every man and woman in a household can discover the challenge and the honor of ruling in our households like the cosmos is ruled.

Our rule in our households will never be effortless or flawless as the creator’s rule; in this and other ways there will always be a difference. But nonetheless, like that other rule, our rule can order the many and various things of home life all in view of the flourishing of the persons who live there. Here, to give order is to give life. It is to enact our love for those closest to us.

To rule well is to receive an incomparable gift. It is to enter into, act under, and pass on the care-full love that rules the cosmos. All this, in the mundane daily life of my own microcosm, my household.

~ ~ ~
This post is the first in a series in which we will examine various aspects of Ruling Our Households Like the Cosmos. In upcoming posts we will consider just how the order in the cosmos gives pattern and direction for order in the household.

I want to express my debt to the book Wisdom, Cosmos, and Cultus in the Book of Sirach. This masterful study by A. Jordan Schmidt, O.P. has opened my eyes to the treasures in the book of Sirach.

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