Sirach 22:21

Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus

21 Even if you draw your sword against a friend, do not despair, for there is a way back. 22 If you open your mouth against your friend, do not worry, for reconciliation is possible. But as for reviling, arrogance, disclosure of secrets, or a treacherous blow— in these cases any friend will take to flight. 23 Gain the trust of your neighbor in his poverty, so that you may rejoice with him in his prosperity. Stand by him in time of distress, so that you may share with him in his inheritance. 24 The vapor and smoke of the furnace precede the fire; so insults precede bloodshed. 25 I am not ashamed to shelter a friend, and I will not hide from him.

John Chrysostom Homily 40 on Acts


First, let us put away the things which are subversive of charity, and then we shall establish this. Let none be resentful, none be envious, none rejoicing in (others') misfortunes: these are the things that hinder love; well then, the things that make it are of the other sort. For it is not enough to put away the things that hinder; the things that establish must also be forthcoming. Now Sirach tells us the things that are subversive (of friendship), and does not go on to speak of the things which make union. Reproaching, he says, and revealing of a secret, and a treacherous wound. But in speaking of the men of those times, these things might well be named, seeing they were carnal: but in our case, God forbid they should be (even) named. Not from these things do we bring our inducements for you, but from the others. For us, there is nothing good without friendship. Let there be good things without number, but what is the benefit — be it wealth, be it luxury — without friendship? No possession equal to this, even in matters of this life, just as there is nothing worse than men hating (us).

 Notes and References

"... The golden age of Greek patristic literature, that is, the fourth and fifth centuries, are no exception as far as the popularity of Sirach. Besides John Chrysostom, nearly all of the most prominent authors of this period cite from Sirach, including, inter alia, Clement of Alexandria, Ambrose, and Augustine. Clement of Alexandria even believed that Sirach had influenced the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (Stromata 2:5). Sirach was also popular with authors such as Tertullian, Origen and Cyprian. Jerome, however, rejected the canonical status of Sirach. The first full commentary on Sirach was only completed in the ninth century by Rabanus Maurus. The citations in John’s homilies are often sporadic proof-texts. But what is interesting is the constant repetition of certain citations, citations that seem to have remained in John’s memory. The homilies on the books of the New Testament come in the guise of a sermonic commentary, with verse-by-verse expositions. But inside these expositions one finds many other citations which were probably quoted from memory and not necessarily from a text. It is therefore problematic to speculate from which text or version a citation originates, since John probably memorized many Sirachic proverbs during his monastic retreat or ministerial period. This obviously does not rule out the possibility that John probably had a written text at his disposal (which he may have read for study and devotion). Some proverbs are cited or alluded to more often than others. The more popular citations, which occur frequently in the homilies, are Sirach 1:22; 5:6; and 18:16-17. Other citations occurring more than once include Sirach 2:4; 3:30; 4:8; 9:9, 13, 15; 10:9, 12-13; 11:3; 13:15; 15:9; 16:3, 12; 18:30; 19:10-11; 21:2; 23:10, 17; 28:3; and 34:23. There are a total of 65 individual verses cited from Sirach in John’s New Testament homilies, only slightly fewer than the 77 verses cited from Proverbs ..."

de Wet, Chris John Chrysostom's Use of the Book of Sirach in his Homilies on the New Testament (pp. 1-6) University of Pretoria, 2010

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