First Reading:  Sirach 27:30-28:9

The Price of Hatred

What is the personal cost of holding onto hatred?

30 Wrath and anger, these also are abominations,

yet a sinner holds on to them.

1 The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance;

indeed he remembers their sins in detail.

2 Forgive your neighbor the wrong done to you;

then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.

3 Does anyone nourish anger against another

and expect healing from the LORD?

4 Can one refuse mercy to a sinner like oneself,

yet seek pardon for one’s own sins?

5 If a mere mortal cherishes wrath,

who will forgive his sins?

6 Remember your last days and set enmity aside;

remember death and decay, and cease from sin!

7 Remember the commandments and do not be angry with your neighbor;

remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook faults.

8 Avoid strife and your sins will be fewer,

for the hot-tempered kindle strife;

9 The sinner disrupts friendships

and sows discord among those who are at peace.

New American Bible Revised Edition

Jesus ben Sirach wrote this book of wisdom about 180 B.C. This book (also known as Ecclesiasticus) was a text for the education of wealthy young men in Jerusalem just before the Hasmonean revolution (167-164 B.C.). Sirach revealed the tensions in the city: the rifts between rich and poor, between the local populace and their foreign rulers, between male and female. How does a righteous Jew live in such a culture of tension?

Maintaining friendships would be especially difficult in this environment. The temptation to "sell out" a friend for gain was great. But the repercussions would be greater. For example, slander injured the victim, the slanderer, and the person who believed the lie. In such an atmosphere, how does one repair damage?