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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Chapter 18

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The Divine Power and Mercy*

1The Eternal is the judge of all things without exception; the LORD alone is just. 2Whom has he made equal to describing his works, and who can probe his mighty deeds? 3Who can measure his majestic power, or exhaust the tale of his mercies? 4One cannot lessen, nor increase, nor penetrate the wonders of the LORD. 5When a man ends he is only beginning, and when he stops he is still bewildered. 6What is man, of what worth is he? the good, the evil in him, what are these? 7The sum of a man’s days is great if it reaches a hundred years: t Ps 90, 10 . 8Like a drop of sea water, like a grain of sand, so are these few years among the days of eternity. 9That is why the LORD is patient with men and showers upon them his mercy. 10He sees and understands that their death is grievous, and so he forgives them all the more. 11Man may be merciful to his fellow man, but the LORD’s mercy reaches all flesh, 12Reproving, admonishing, teaching, as a shepherd guides his flock; u Jn 10, 11 . 13Merciful to those who accept his guidance, who are diligent in his precepts.

The Necessity of Prudence

14My son, to your charity add no reproach,* nor spoil any gift by harsh words. 15Like dew that abates a burning wind, so does a word improve a gift. 16Sometimes the word means more than the gift; both are offered by a kindly man. 17Only a fool upbraids before giving; a grudging gift wears out the expectant eyes. v Sir 20, 13 . 18Be informed before speaking; before sickness prepare the cure. 19Before you are judged, seek merit for yourself, and at the time of visitation you will have a ransom.* 20Before you have fallen, humble yourself; when you have sinned, show repentance. 21Delay not to forsake sins, neglect it not till you are in distress. 22Let nothing prevent the prompt payment of your vows;* wait not to fulfill them when you are dying. w Nm 30, 3; Dt 23, 22; Ps 50, 14; Prv 20, 25; Eccl 5, 4 . 23Before making a vow have the means to fulfill it; be not one who tries the LORD. 24Think of wrath and the day of death, the time of vengeance when he will hide his face. x Sir 7, 16 . 25Remember the time of hunger in the time of plenty, poverty and want in the day of wealth. y Sir 11, 25 . 26Between morning and evening the weather changes; before the LORD all things are fleeting. 27A wise man is circumspect in all things; when sin is rife he keeps himself from wrongdoing. 28Any learned man should make wisdom known,* and he who attains to her should declare her praise; 29Those trained in her words must show their wisdom, dispensing sound proverbs like life-giving waters.

Self-Control*

30Go not after your lusts, z Rom 6, 12; 13, 14 . but keep your desires in check. 31If you satisfy your lustful appetites they will make you the sport of your enemies. 32Have no joy in the pleasures of a moment which bring on poverty redoubled; 33Become not a glutton and a winebibber with nothing in your purse.

Notes:

t: Ps 90, 10 .

u: Jn 10, 11 .

v: Sir 20, 13 .

w: Nm 30, 3; Dt 23, 22; Ps 50, 14; Prv 20, 25; Eccl 5, 4 .

x: Sir 7, 16 .

y: Sir 11, 25 .

z: Rom 6, 12; 13, 14 .

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