1st Reading – Sirach 27:4-7
When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear;
so do one’s faults when one speaks.
As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace,
so in tribulation is the test of the just.
The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had;
so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind.
Praise no one before he speaks,
for it is then that people are tested.
The author of the Book of Sirach was a learned scribe, a humble and zealous man, who lived in Jerusalem. He opened a school to give moral and civic education to all comers; there, under the inspiration of God, he wrote this book.
The Book of Sirach was translated from Hebrew into Greek by the original author’s grandson. In the foreword of the book, he states his reason for making his grandfather’s wisdom available to Greek-speaking people: “Many sleepless hours of close application have I devoted in the interval to finishing the book for publication, for the benefit of those living abroad who wish to acquire wisdom and are disposed to live their lives according to the standards of the law.”
The selection we read today is typical of the kind of wisdom that is taught in the Book of Sirach.