A Sturdy Shelter

On Friday this week, we will hear from the sixth chapter of Sirach. It is one of my favorite readings and, though we do not hear it often proclaimed at Mass, Maureen and I used it as the first reading at our wedding.

A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies,
and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.

O Lord, this is hard. I know my mouth should be kind, but sometimes the words get from my brain to my mouth too quickly.

Let your acquaintances be many,
but one in a thousand your confidant.

Who do you trust? Who will be with you when the going gets rough? Thank God for Maureen.

When you gain a friend, first test him,
and be not too ready to trust him.

This is odd. I was taught that being the first to trust is better. Still, I suppose being cautious is relationships, especially new ones, is a good thing.

For one sort is a friend when it suits him,
but he will not be with you in time of distress.

Yes, I have met these people. They say they want to work with you, then they throw you under the bus when the work becomes too difficult.

Another is a friend who becomes an enemy,
and tells of the quarrel to your shame.

Pope Francis says that gossip is a form of terrorism.  Lord, save me from those who do not speak to my face when they are angry – and give me the courage to speak the truth.

Another is a friend, a boon companion,
who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
When things go well, he is your other self,
and lords it over your servants;
But if you are brought low, he turns against you
and avoids meeting you.

Yes, I know these people, too. They are right by your side until you are in need. Then, they are nowhere to be found. They have moved on to happier friends, those not currently in despair, those who require less of them. 

Keep away from your enemies;
be on your guard with your friends.

Makes sense to me.

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.

I call her my wife.

A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.

Or her worth. Let’s be fair here.

A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy,
such as he who fears God finds;
For he who fears God behaves accordingly,
and his friend will be like himself.

A life-saving remedy indeed. They are your best editor and hear what you do not say. They save you from yourself and help you understand your needs before you are even able to identify them.

 May your week be filled with friends.