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2002 11 11
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Chapter 31


1 Keeping watch over riches wastes the flesh, and the care of wealth drives away rest.


2 Concern for one's livelihood banishes slumber; more than a serious illness it disturbs repose.


The rich man labors to pile up wealth, and his only rest is wanton pleasure;


The poor man toils for a meager subsistence, and if ever he rests, he finds himself in want.


The lover of gold will not be free from sin, for he who pursues wealth is led astray by it.


Many have been ensnared by gold, though destruction lay before their eyes;


It is a stumbling block to those who are avid for it, a snare for every fool.


3 Happy the rich man found without fault, who turns not aside after gain!


Who is he, that we may praise him? he, of all his kindred, has done wonders,


For he has been tested by gold and come off safe, and this remains his glory; He could have sinned but did not, could have done evil but would not,


So that his possessions are secure, and the assembly recounts his praises.


4 If you are dining with a great man, bring not a greedy gullet to his table, Nor cry out, "How much food there is here!"


Remember that gluttony is evil. No creature is greedier than the eye: therefore it weeps for any cause.


Recognize that your neighbor feels as you do, and keep in mind your own dislikes:


Toward what he eyes, do not put out a hand; nor reach when he does for the same dish.


Behave at table like a favored guest, and be not greedy, lest you be despised.


Be the first to stop, as befits good manners; gorge not yourself, lest you give offense.


If there are many with you at table, be not the first to reach out your hand.


Does not a little suffice for a well-bred man? When he lies down, it is without discomfort.


Distress and anguish and loss of sleep, and restless tossing for the glutton! Moderate eating ensures sound slumber and a clear mind next day on rising.


5 If perforce you have eaten too much, once you have emptied your stomach, you will have relief.


Listen to me, my son, and scorn me not; later you will find my advice good. In whatever you do, be moderate, and no sickness will befall you.


On a man generous with food, blessings are invoked, and this testimony to his goodness is lasting;


He who is miserly with food is denounced in public, and this testimony to his stinginess is lasting.


Let not wine-drinking be the proof of your strength, for wine has been the ruin of many.


As the furnace probes the work of the smith, so does wine the hearts of the insolent.


Wine is very life to man if taken in moderation. Does he really live who lacks the wine which was created for his joy?


Joy of heart, good cheer and merriment are wine drunk freely at the proper time.


Headache, bitterness and disgrace is wine drunk amid anger and strife.


More and more wine is a snare for the fool; it lessens his strength and multiplies his wounds.


Rebuke not your neighbor when wine is served, nor put him to shame while he is merry; Use no harsh words with him and distress him not in the presence of others.



1 [1-11] Solicitude for acquiring wealth and anxiety over preserving it disturb repose and easily lead to sin and ruin ( Sirach 31:1-7). Cf Matthew 6:25-34. A rich man who has not sinned or been seduced by wealth is worthy of praise ( Sirach 31:8-11).

2 [2] The Hebrew adds a verse that seems out of place here: "A faithful comrade drives away reproach, and the friend who keeps secrets is as dear as life."

3 [8-10] The Church in her liturgy applies this passage to holy confessors of the Faith.

4 [ 31:12- 32:13] A man observing etiquette at table avoids greed and selfishness ( Sirach 31:12-13), is considerate of a neighbor's likes and dislikes and is generous toward him ( Sirach 31:14, 15, 23, 24), observes proper manners ( Sirach 31:16-18), is moderate in eating and drinking ( Sirach 31:19-22, 25-30). A good host makes himself one with his guests, is solicitous for them ( Sirach 32:1, 2), provides conversation and diversion ( Sirach 32:3-6), is modest in speech ( Sirach 32:7, 8, 10), is respectful of elders ( Sirach 32:9), polite in comportment and grateful to God for his favors ( Sirach 32:11-13).

5 [21] Emptied your stomach: the practice of induced vomiting, well-known among pagan Romans, and less well-known among the Jews, seems to be referred to here.

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