He will get up (Lk 11:8-11:8)

“I tell you!

Even though

He will not get up

And give him anything,

Because he is his friend,

At least,

Because of his persistence,

He will get up.

He will give him

Whatever he needs.”

 

λέγω ὑμῖν, εἰ καὶ οὐ δώσει αὐτῷ ἀναστὰς διὰ τὸ εἶναι φίλον αὐτοῦ, διά γε τὴν ἀναιδίαν αὐτοῦ ἐγερθεὶς δώσει αὐτῷ ὅσων χρῄζει.

 

Luke uniquely brought this parable story about waking up a friend at midnight to a surprise ending.  In this conclusion, Jesus proclaimed solemnly (λέγω ὑμῖν), that even though this friend will not get up and give him anything (εἰ καὶ οὐ δώσει αὐτῷ ἀναστὰς), because he was his friend (διὰ τὸ εἶναι φίλον αὐτοῦ), at least, because of his persistence (διά γε τὴν ἀναιδίαν αὐτοῦ), he will get up (ἐγερθεὶς) and give him whatever he needed (δώσει αὐτῷ ὅσων χρῄζει).  Problem solved, as persistence was better than friendship.  In a complete turnaround, this friend offered his requesting persistent neighbor friend whatever he wanted.  That’s what friends are for.  However, it was the persistence rather than the friendship that led him to act.  So that is the moral of this story.  Perseverance in prayer to the Father will lead to success.  Do you persist in prayer to God?

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Phinehas (Sir 45:23-45:25)

“Phinehas

Son of Eleazar

Is the third in glory.

He was zealous

In the fear of the Lord.

He stood firm,

When the people turned away.

In the noble courage of his soul,

He made atonement for Israel.

Therefore a covenant of peace

Was established with him.

He should be the leader of the sanctuary.

He should be the leader of his people.

He with his descendants

Should have the dignity

Of the priesthood forever.

Just as a covenant

Was established with David,

Son of Jesse,

Of the tribe of Judah,

That the king’s heritage

Passes only from son to son,

So the heritage of Aaron

Is for his descendants alone.”

This story of Phinehas was based on Numbers, chapter 25. It is strange that Sirach has given him such an important place. In fact, Sirach says that he ranks 3rd behind Moses and Aaron. Phinehas was the grandson of Aaron via Eleazar, the son of Aaron. However, his claim to fame was that he stopped a plague among the Israelites by killing a fellow Israelite who was having sex with a Midianite woman at Peor. Thus he made atonement for the Israelites who were involved in intermarriage situations with the Midianites. Yahweh rewarded Phinehas with a perpetual covenant of friendship. He then became the leader of the future sanctuary so that his descendants would be priests forever. However, he already was in the line of Aaron. This covenant was like the later covenant with David and his descendants. Thus the descendants of the Phinehas often became the head high priest of Jerusalem.

Betraying secrets (Sir 27:16-27:21)

“Whoever betrays secrets

Destroys confidence.

He will never find

A congenial friend.

Love your friend.

Keep faith with him.

But if you betray his secrets,

Do not follow after him.

As a person destroys

His enemy,

So you have destroyed

The friendship of your neighbor.

As you allow a bird to escape

From your hand,

So you have let your neighbor go.

You will not catch him again.

Do not go after him.

He is too far off.

He has escaped

Like a gazelle from a snare.

A wound may be bandaged.

There is reconciliation after abuse.

But whoever has betrayed secrets

Is without hope.”

Sirach is very harsh against those who betray secrets. When you betray a secret you destroy any confidence that another person has in you. You can never be their friend again. If you love your friend, you will not betray his secrets. Once you betray him, do not follow after him. Your friendship is destroyed. You have let the bird out of your hand that will never return. So too, your friendly neighbor is gone for good. He is like a gazelle that has escaped from a trap. You will never get him back. Then Sirach indicated how strong he felt about this. He said that it was easier to have a wound bandaged, and abusive behavior forgiven than making up after betraying a secret. There was no hope for the betrayer. Wow! Be careful when someone tells you a secret.

Trusting friendly neighbors (Sir 22:23-22:26)

“Gain the trust of your neighbor

In his poverty.

Thus you may rejoice with him

In his prosperity.

Stand by him

In time of his distress.

Thus you may share with him

In his inheritance.

One should not always despise

Restricted circumstances.

One should not admire

A rich person who is stupid.

The vapor of the furnace

Precedes the fire.

The smoke of the furnace

Precedes the fire.

Thus insults precede bloodshed.

I am not ashamed

To shelter a friend.

I will not hide from him.

But if harm should come to me

Because of him,

Whoever hears of it

Will beware of him.”

Friendship happens in good times as well as bad times. If you trust your neighbor in his poverty, you can rejoice with him in his prosperity. If you stand by him in his distress, you can share with him in his good times. On the other hand, you should not admire a rich stupid person or despise those in poverty. Where there is a smell and smoke, there surely will be a fire. So too, insults often precede bloodshed. So be careful! Sirach was not ashamed to shelter a friend. However, if any harm came to him because of that friend, this would be a reminder to others to be wary about what his friend had done. Even this friendship is a little shaky, so that you should always be on guard against false friends.

Friendship (Sir 22:19-22:22)

“Whoever pricks an eye

Brings tears.

Whoever pricks the heart

Makes clear its feelings.

Whoever throws a stone at birds

Scares them away.

Whoever reviles a friend

Destroys a friendship.

Even if you have drawn your sword

Against a friend,

Do not despair.

There is a way back.

If you have opened your mouth

Against your friend,

Do not worry.

Reconciliation is possible.

But your friend will flee

If you have been reviling,

If you have been arrogant,

If you have disclosed his secrets,

If you have dealt a treacherous blow.”

Friendship is tricky. Certain things follow naturally. If you prick your eye you will get a tear in your eye. If you touch someone’s heart, you make your feelings known. If you throw stones at birds, they will scatter. If you revile a friend with abusive language, you will destroy that friendship. If you have drawn a sword or opened your mouth against a friend, don’t despair. There is still a chance for this friendship to be reconciled. However, your friend will leave you if you use abusive arrogant language, disclose their secrets, or try to kill them. These actions are show stoppers. The friendship will die. Your friend will go away and not come back.

The good wife (Prov 18:22-18:24)

“He who finds a wife

Finds happiness.

He obtains favor from Yahweh.

The poor use entreaties.

But the rich answer roughly.

Some friends play at friendship.

But a true friend sticks closer

Than one’s nearest relative.”

You will be happy if you find a good wife. Yahweh will favor you. Even though the poor use entreaties to beg, the rich usually answer roughly. Some people play at friendship, but a true friend stays closer to you than your own relatives.

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.