Sirach 4: Duties
Sirach first gives us a list of “don’ts” for the road followed by what we must do
My child, do not cheat the poor of their living, and do not keep needy eyes waiting.
Do not grieve the hungry, or anger one in need.
Do not add to the troubles of the desperate, or delay giving to the needy.
Do not reject a suppliant in distress, or turn your face away from the poor.
Do not avert your eye from the needy, and give no one reason to curse you; for if in bitterness of soul some should curse you, their Creator will hear their prayer.
Endear yourself to the congregation; bow your head low to the great.
Give a hearing to the poor, and return their greeting politely.
Rescue the oppressed from the oppressor; and do not be hesitant in giving a verdict.
Be a father to orphans, and be like a husband to their mother; you will then be like a son of the Most High, and he will love you more than does your mother.
These rules may be difficult to implement because they call for deep, transformative change. We may already have made these standards integral to our lives and if so, we will want to read on for more about the rewards of wisdom from Sirach. Wisdom teaches her children and gives help to those who seek her . . . Watch for the opportune time, and beware of evil, and do not be ashamed to be yourself . . . Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment, and do not hide your wisdom. For wisdom becomes known through speech, and education through the words of the tongue. Never speak against the truth, but be ashamed of your ignorance. Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to stop the current of a river. Do not subject yourself to a fool, or show partiality to a ruler. Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will fight for you . . . Do not let your hand be stretched out to receive and closed when it is time to give.
When we receive these rewards from Wisdom, it is not enough that we take them in. Sirach advises that we must speak, act and live in the confidence and knowledge. As New Testament people, we must live in The Way that Jesus encourages in us.
Tomorrow, precepts for everyday living.