Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Son of Sirach on Medicine

Hold the physician in honor, for he is essential to you,
and God it was who established his profession.
From God the doctor has his wisdom,
and the king provides for his sustenance.
His knowledge makes the doctor distinguished,
and gives him access to those in authority.
God makes the earth yield healing herbs
which the prudent man will not neglect;
was not the water sweetened by a twig
that men might learn his power?
He endows men with the knowledge
to glory in his mighty works,
through which the doctor eases pain
and the druggist prepares his medicines;
thus God's creative work continues without cease
in its efficacy on the surface of the earth.

My son, when you are ill, delay not,
but pray to God who will heal you:
flee wickedness; let your hands be just,
cleanse your heart of every sin;
offer your sweet-smelling oblation and petition,
a rich offering according to your means.
Then give the doctor his place
lest he leave; for you need him too.
There are times that give him an advantage,
and he too beseeches God
that his diagnosis may be correct
and his treatment bring about a cure.
He who is a sinner toward his Maker
will be defiant toward the doctor.


Sirach 38:1-15 (NAB)

I find especially interesting the idea that palliative and curative medicine are some of the ways in which God's work of creation is expressed; and that defiance of the doctor is considered to be the sort of act associated with those who sin against God their Maker.

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