A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies,
and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
Let your acquaintances be many,
but one in a thousand your confidant.
When you gain a friend, first test him,
and be not too ready to trust him.
For one sort is a friend when it suits him,
but he will not be with you in time of distress.
Another is a friend who becomes an enemy,
and tells of the quarrel to your shame.
Another is a friend, a boon companion,
who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
When things go well, he is your other self,
and lords it over your servants;
But if you are brought low, he turns against you
and avoids meeting you.
Keep away from your enemies;
be on your guard with your friends.
Surely today's first reading contains true wisdom. Ben Sirach has done the world a great favor but, if many were asked what Ben has done for humanity, few would recall or even say they knew about his advice for each child of God.
What is friendship? Interesting question is today's world. Perhaps something most human beings take for granted. What is it that allows some women and men to form significant friendships? On one person's spiritual journey, why should it matter how many friends he/she has?
Ben Sirach was gifted with the graces of the Holy Spirit, seemingly an abundance of wisdom. Why? He seemed to know how to describe what true friendship is. Likewise he seems to have known other kind of friendships as well: those friendships that were not founded on true wisdom.
Today's reading is one that might well be copied and read often. A colleague in a previous assignment told me how much wisdom she gathered from the Bible which she wrote out by hand over a two year period. These words in the first reading today might well be a writing exercise of us today especially in light of the "abundance" of social communications that take up so much of many peoples' lives.
The challenge I put before you today is for you to take some time during the summer holidays which we traditional "kick off" on this Memorial Day weekend.
Are you a parent, a grandparent, an uncle or aunt or already a true friend to a young woman or man who will be receiving a diploma during the next few weeks? Are you looking for a unique gift for that grad? Consider writing out these words of wise man Ben and frame them. Could there be a more meaningful gift? Once the money gift is spent, it is forgotten. But these words on friendship, framed and presented, can become a beacon that transforms a young life; a protection for someone stepping out into the world on his/her own; a constant reminder to the grad of your genuine care. You have given the gift that save countless hours of confusion, loss and pain by giving the keys to one of God's greatest gifts to each of us: the ability to find a true friend!