The use of wine (Sir 31:25-31:31)

“Do not try to prove your strength

By drinking wine.

Wine has destroyed many people.

As the furnace tests

The work of the smith,

So wine tests hearts

When the insolent quarrel.

Wine is very life to human beings,

If you drink it in moderation.

What is life to one

Who is without wine?

It has been created

To make people happy.

Wine drunk at the proper time,

Is rejoicing to the heart.

Wine drunk in moderation

Brings gladness to the soul.

Wine drunk to excess

Leads to bitterness of spirit,

Leads to quarrels,

Leads to stumbling.

Drunkenness increases

The anger of a fool

To his own hurt.

It reduces his strength.

It adds wounds.

Do not reprove your neighbor

At a banquet of wine.

Do not despise him

In his merrymaking.

Speak no word of reproach to him.

Do not distress him

By making demands of him.”

Sirach warns that you should not try to show how strong you are by drinking wine since it has destroyed many people. Just as a furnace tests the iron work of a blacksmith, so too wine tests insolent people when they quarrel. However, wine does have a good purpose. It is life itself when taken in moderation. Without wine, our lives would not be happy. Wine at the proper time and in moderation rejoices and gladdens the heart and the soul. On the other hand, over indulging in wine can lead to a bitter spirit, quarrels, and stumbling around. The fool who drinks excessively increases his own anger to his own detriment. Drunkards lose their strength and sometimes get wounded. If you are at a banquet with wine, do not pick an argument with your neighbor. Do not dislike him for having a good time. Do not criticize him or ask him for anything. It is not the right time.

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Gifts (Sir 18:15-18:18)

“My child!

Do not mix reproach

With your good deeds!

Do not spoil your gift

By harsh words!

Does not the dew give relief

From the scorching heat?

So a word is

Better than a gift.

Indeed,

Does not a word

Surpass a good gift?

Both are to be found

In a gracious man.

A fool is ungracious.

A fool is abusive.

The gift of a grudging giver

Makes the eyes dim.”

Be careful when you are giving gifts that your words and attitude not betray your good deed. Do not criticize when you are doing good deeds. Don’t spoil your gifts with unkind words. Just like the morning dew gives relief from the later noon day heat, so too a nice word might be better than a good gift, and even surpass it. The gracious man offers both good words and good gifts. On the other hand, the fool is both ungracious and insulting. People do not look favorably on a grudging giver.

The difference between the rich and the humble (Sir 13:21-13:24)

“When the rich person totters,

He is supported by friends.

But when a humble person falls,

He is pushed away

Even by friends.

If the rich person slips,

Many come to his rescue.

If he speaks unseemly words,

They justify him.

If the humble person slips,

They even criticize him.

If he talks sense,

He is not given a hearing.

When the rich person speaks,

All are silent.

They extol to the clouds

What he says.

When the poor person speaks,

They say.

‘Who is this fellow?’

Should he stumble,

They even push him down.

Riches are good

If they are free from sin.

Poverty is evil

Only in the opinion of the ungodly.”

Sirach points out the different attitudes that we have toward the rich and the poor. We tolerate and encourage bad behavior by rich people, but we put down the good behavior of poor people. If a rich person totters a little bit, everyone will come to help him. If a humble poor person slips, his friends push him away. Everyone tries to justify the unseemly words of the rich. However, they will criticize the words of the poor, even if they make a lot of good sense. No one will listen to the poor, but everyone is silent when the rich speak. They will say how wonderful he is. On the other hand, when the poor person speaks, they will ask, who is this guy anyway. If a poor person stumbles, they will push him down further. The only way that rich can be good, is if they are free from sin. In fact, the ungodly think that poverty is evil. It is a tough life if you are poor, but everyone will cover your mistakes if you are rich, because you have “affluenza”.

Be reflective (Sir 11:7-11:9)

“Do not find fault

Before you investigate!

Examine first!

Then criticize!

Do not answer

Before you listen!

Do not interrupt

When another is speaking!

Do not argue about a matter

That does not concern you!

Do not sit with sinners

When they judge a case!”

You should be reflective. Do not find fault before you investigate a situation. Consider and examine the case before you criticize. Listen before you speak. Do not interrupt others when they are speaking. Don’t butt into things that do not concern you. Do not sit with sinners when there is a case under review.

Respect for others (Sir 8:4-8:7)

“Do not make fun of one

Who is ill-bred.

Otherwise your ancestors may be insulted.

Do not reproach one

Who is turning away from sin.

Remember that we all deserve punishment.

Do not disdain one

Who is old.

Some of us are also growing old.

Do not rejoice over any one’s death.

Remember that we all must die.”

Sirach reminds us that we should respect other people. We should not make fun of ill bred people because some of our ancestors might be insulted. We should not criticize a penitent, since all of us deserve punishment. We should not make fun of old people because some of us are getting old. We should not rejoice over the death of anyone because we too are going to die.

Fools (Prov 17:7-17:10)

“Fine speech is not becoming to a fool.

Still less is false speech becoming to a ruler.

A bribe is like a magic stone

In the eyes of those who gives it.

Wherever they turn,

They prosper.

Whoever forgives an affront

Fosters friendship.

But whoever dwells on disputes

Will alienate a friend.

A rebuke goes deeper into a discerning person

Than a hundred blows into a fool.”

Fools do not have fine speech. Rulers should not lie. A bribe is a like a magic stone for the one who gives bribes. Things seem to happen for them magically, as they prosper. If you forgive someone who has offended you, you are actually fostering friendship. However, if you dwell on disputes, you will alienate a friend. You can criticize a discerning person with some reward, but it would be foolish to try to change a fool with a 100 blows or lashes.