Many are the surprises in Scripture. Lent is a good time to revisit the Bible.
One such repository of wisdom is the eleventh chapter of Sirach.
“Do not compliment a person on his good looks. On the other hand, do not look down on someone who is unattractive. Compared to most flying things, a bee is very small, but the honey it makes is the sweetest of foods.
“Don’t make fun of someone who has fallen on hard times and is dressed in rags. The Lord does wonderful things that human beings never notice. Many are the kings who have ended their careers sitting on the ground, while their crowns were worn by those no one had heard of before. Many are the rulers who have suffered disgrace. Many are the famous people who have fallen into the power of others.”
We see this constantly.
“Before you start criticizing, get your facts straight and think the matter through.
“Don’t interrupt while someone is speaking; hear what he has to say before you answer. Don’t get into an argument over something that is none of your business. Don’t take part in decisions that are being made by sinners.
“My child, don’t get involved in too many things. If you try to do too much, you will suffer for it. You won’t be able to finish your work, and you won’t be able to get away from it either. For instance, here is someone who never stops working like a slave, but gets further behind all the time. On the other hand, someone else may be very poor and not up to his task. He may be slow, and he may need help, but the Lord is pleased with him and pulls him out of his bad situation. When he is back on his feet again, everyone is astounded.
“Everything comes from the Lord: success and failure, poverty and wealth, life and death. Wisdom, understanding, knowledge of the Law, love, and the doing of good deeds—all these come from the Lord. Error and darkness have been with sinners from the beginning, and those who enjoy evil will have it with them into their old age. The Lord’s gifts to religious people are gifts that endure. If He approves of you, you will always be successful. Someone may grow rich by working hard and denying himself pleasure, but what does he get for it? He says to himself, ‘Now I can finally sit back and enjoy what I have worked for.’ But he has no idea how long it will be before he must die and leave his wealth to others.
“Stand by your duty and stick to it; grow old at your work. Don’t be jealous of what sinners achieve; just stick to your own work, and trust the Lord. It is very easy for the Lord to make a poor person suddenly rich. Devout people will receive the Lord’s blessing as their reward, and that blessing can be given in a moment. Don’t be concerned about what you need, or what success the future holds for you. On the other hand, don’t think that you have everything you need or that nothing can go wrong for you in the future. When things are going well, people don’t think about hard times; and when things are going badly, they forget about prosperity. The Lord can easily wait until the day of our death to reward or punish us. At that time our deeds are open for all to see; all our happiness can be erased in that one moment of misery. So then, don’t think of anyone’s life as happy until it is over, because all the evidence is not in until the person is dead.”
Be Careful in Choosing Friends
“Be careful about the kind of person you invite into your home, because clever people can fool you in many ways. A proud person is a decoy to lure you into danger; like a spy, he will look for your weaknesses. He will make good appear evil and find fault with the noblest actions. A single spark can set a pile of coals ablaze, and a sinner is just waiting for a chance to do violence. Watch out for such people and their evil plans; they will ruin you permanently. If you bring a stranger home with you, it will only cause trouble, even between you and your own family.”
Of course, we’re told to help the downtrodden and strangers — but not without caution and discernment. And growing old in our work: die with your boots on.
Here turn to the New Testament (1 Peter 2:13-17), which says, “Because of the Lord, be obedient to every human institution, whether to the emperor as sovereign or to the governor he commissions for the punishment of criminals and the recognition of the upright. Such obedience is the Will of God. You must silence the ignorant talk of foolish men by your good behavior. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cloak for vice. In a word, live as servants of God. You must esteem the person of every man. Foster love for the brothers, reverence for God, respect for the emperor.”
“Though the pagans may slander you as troublemakers, conduct yourselves blamelessly among them. By observing your good works they may give glory to God on the day of visitation (13-17).”
Bottom line on today’s meditation: Close your ears to harshness; let your mouth form words not of argumentation and distaste (there the devil plays), but of concern, edification, and love. Rise above the superficiality of this fallen world.
[resources: The Scriptural Rosary]