I was 44 years old when we entered into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. I grew up in a home steeped in bible study and scripture reading; but I was never once exposed to the books of the bible known as the Apocrypha. I am finally setting out on the adventure of exploring these books, beginning with the first chapter of the book of Sirach. Here is a brief introduction to the book, from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, and below I have chosen verses 11-30 of the introductory chapter for today’s scripture. There are notes and cross references linked as well, thanks to the USCCB.
FEAR OF THE LORD IS WISDOM*
11 The fear of the Lord* is glory and exultation,
gladness and a festive crown.
12 The fear of the Lord rejoices the heart,
giving gladness, joy, and long life.†
13 Those who fear the Lord will be happy at the end,
even on the day of death they will be blessed.
14 The beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord;
she is created with the faithful in the womb.d
15 With the godly she was created from of old,
and with their descendants she will keep faith.
16 The fullness of wisdom is to fear the Lord;
she inebriates them with her fruits.e
17 Their entire house she fills with choice foods,
their granaries with her produce.
18 The crown of wisdom is the fear of the Lord,
flowering with peace and perfect health.†
19 Knowledge and full understanding she rains down;
she heightens the glory of those who possess her.
20 The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord;
her branches are long life.
21 The fear of the Lord drives away sins;
where it abides it turns back all anger.
22 Unjust anger can never be justified;
anger pulls a person to utter ruin.
23 * Until the right time, the patient remain calm,
then cheerfulness comes back to them.
24 Until the right time they hold back their words;
then the lips of many will tell of their good sense.
25 Among wisdom’s treasures is the model for knowledge;
but godliness is an abomination to the sinner.
26 If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments,
and the Lord will bestow her upon you;
27 For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline;
faithfulness and humility are his delight.
28 Do not disobey the fear of the Lord,*
do not approach it with duplicity of heart.f
29 Do not be a hypocrite before others;
over your lips keep watch.
30 Do not exalt yourself lest you fall
and bring dishonor upon yourself;
For then the Lord will reveal your secrets
and cast you down in the midst of the assembly.
Because you did not approach the fear of the Lord,
and your heart was full of deceit.