Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox with hatred.
Read Chapter 15
Ambrose of Milan
Be content with what is your own and do not let your wellbeing be based on doing harm to your neighbor. You may find your livelihood in the simplicity of innocence. The person in possession of his own good knows nothing of waylaying others. He is not inflamed by the desires of the avaricious person, whose every gain is at the expense of virtue and a further incentive to cupidity. Therefore, should he come to know his blessings, the poor person is truly happy who lives righteously in a manner which is to be preferred to all the treasures of the world, because “better a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasures without fear.” How much under these circumstances does one need to support life? If you go beyond that little and seek that, also, which others find pleasure in possessing, that, too, has little to commend it: “It is better to be invited to herbs with love than to a fatted calf with hatred.” Let us use our talents, therefore, for the acquisition of grace and the attain...
“Herbs with love are better than a fatted calf with deceit.” This is reminiscent of what we said before, that herbs are not the Agape, but that meals should be taken with charity. A middle course is good in all things, and no less so in serving a banquet. Extremes, in fact, are dangerous, but the mean is good, and all that avoids dire need is a mean. Natural desires have a limit set to them by selfsufficiency. .
“It is better the hospitality with vegetables.” I will explain what [Solomon] says. If one fears God and also enjoys the benevolence of people, it is still better for him to have little property than an abundance. Indeed, pleasure is not in abundance, but abundance is in pleasure, as Hesiod says. One who neglects offenses settles the future judgments about them. A stupid person does nothing sensibly, whereas the judicious one directs, that is, displays actions of free opinion. Those who despise consulting other people about what must be done, despise advice. It then happens that those people, who think they are something when they are nothing, wander in error. Commentary on the Proverbs of Solomon, Fragment
When one invites to supper guests that are hungry and have an appetite, even if he lays a meager table it seems abundant owing to the anticipation of the guests who fall upon the dishes with great relish. In just the same way we too have confidence in your spiritual appetite and do not hang back, even if we have a poor and meager table, before laying it in customary manner before your good selves. This is what a certain sage also remarked: “Better a meal of vegetables with love than a beast from the manger with enmity,” suggesting that love has a different view of what is set forth, and to its eyes ordinary things appear rich and scraps seem generous.