Sirach is a book from the Apocrypha. It is similar to pastoral writings of Osteen, TD Jakes, or CS Lewis.
Sirach 19:2 “Wine and women cause wise men to fall away, and then they will complain against those who understand.”
A good friend of mine once sought out light and improvement in their life. College, career, philanthropy, they wanted little else than to help society. I recall the class they had, and when they started drinking, the passion for telling differences in wine, and whiskey, their inclination toward philosophy. They soon hoped for love, and started dating, a long term relationship fell to a medium length, then to short ones. These days I find him at bars on the weekends watching the girls that frequent them, and planning his nights out, organizing parties of people to drink with rather than organizing his friends to noble causes of charity. He is not a bad person by any means, he has helped me out now and again, but mention to him his potential if he would practice greater temperance, the good he could finance if he spent $200 per week on local libraries, or homeless shelters instead of one night with a girl, and he’ll insult you until you leave.
Women and wine are not evil, but the temptation to enjoy temporary joy for myself is strong, and is sought out more frequently when I feed that desire. When my days are spent planning one night for myself, rather than planning the future of the homeless, the hungry, and the hopeless, vice has won over virtue. Knights, we can not allow ourselves to fall in to those paterns. “Look, it’s my life and I’m going to live it happily”, then I am sorry that a shot and a kiss are worth more than failing schools, or a floundering Scout Troop. As Masons we ought to have Temperance to put down our second glass and head home; prudence to spend time with those who will build us, not keep us out all night for the laugh of a hangover; and a sense of justice enough to see the good we are sending down the drain with every bar tab.
Knights of the Temple, this passage is reflected in our ritual by Zerubbabel when asked which is the greatest in strength. Zerubabel is mentioned further in Sirach 49:13, and his competition in the Apocryphal book of 1Esdras. Our worthy brothers were very familiar with the Apocrypha as a Cannon book of the bible, since it was printed in KJV Bibles some time in to the 19th century. This blog is not about the history of the Apocrypha, but suffice it to say, it was influential in much of the York Rite rituals. The point here, Knights, is the truth of the matter. This Sunday, it may be worth considering a fast of alcohol this week, filled with a focus on scriptural studies, or event planning for your church, lodge, or commandery. Through a thorough practice of temperance and prudence, by the use of our common gavel, and the guidance of the Holy Bible, we can improve ourselves and not fall prey to the enticing ecstasy of base pleasures in vice.