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Proverbs 1-9: Wisdom


Proverbs 1-9Wisdom

Tuesday, September, 25, 2018

Written on July 26, 2008 and posted as a Favorite today . . .

Raphael: The Cherubim Putti Angels of the Madonna

Wisdom is patience, and the honing of the interior ear . . . the ear that listens to the Voice of God.  There is nothing more, really.  In these first nine chapters of Proverbs, we find a beautiful yet practical guide of where Wisdom is to be found, how we are to remain open to Wisdom, and how important it is to pass Wisdom along to others.  We cannot pass on this Wisdom per se – for she chooses where she harbors – but rather, we pass on the knowledge of where she is found, how she may be wooed, and how she loves those who love her.  These are simple ideas that unlock the mysteries of a complex world.

Wisdom saves us from fear.  She brings us to understanding.  She soothes, she scolds, she hugs, she warms, she enfolds us in her protecting wings.

Several days ago, we remembered the description of the winged Cherubim that arch over the Ark in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings), that guard the eastern gate of Eden (Genesis), and watch over the desert Ark of the Covenant. (Exodus and Numbers). The Cherubim remain with the Ark and the desert people through David’s time (1 Samuel) until a permanent kingdom is established when we see them in Solomon’s temple. In Psalms and prayers, the Lord is often seen as seated among or between Cherubim; and in the New Testament the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (9) recalls this image to his audience. The Cherubim guard the wisdom God wants to extend to us.

Wisdom also goes out along the byways, looking for those who seek her, calling into her house those who want to be close to God.  She sets up tables, lays out banquets, sends her maidens to accompany us to her place of Understanding.  Wisdom seeks to bring us Completion and Fullness . . .  not perfection, for she knows that it is impossible for us to be perfect.  Wisdom resides in God’s glory, and it is this she wishes to teach us.  Wisdom takes in and returns God’s love, and it is this she wishes to open to us.  Wisdom wishes us to be fully alive . . . just as Jesus is fully alive.  It is this opening, this blessing, this gift she offers us on open hands . . . this gift from God . . . this gift of God.

If you can find time in this busy, busy life . . . spend it with Wisdom today.


Adapted from a August 24, 2011 post.

Image from: http://www.amazon.com/Cherubim-Angels-Sistine-Madonna-Raphael/dp/B0044P7XDO


Ezekiel 10The Seed in the Darkness

Monday, September 24, 2018

Written on January 26 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We return to the Cherubim, those “sublime hosts” to God’s presence.  (Noontime, March 4, 2010 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03646c.htm)

These special beings that guard the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies are described in 1 Kings, chapters 6 through 8.  It seems that once a year we visit with them and we might find them fascinating since they share a life of intimacy with God.  Today we see them reappear with the divine chariot.  “The coals may represent either the city’s destruction following the death of its inhabitants or the beginning of purification . . . The details of this second chariot vision [after the introduction in Ezekiel 1] are confusing, making it impossible to follow precisely where the glory is . . . The overall effect of the vision is clear: the glory leaves its great seat within the holy of holies and mounts the living chariot, departing in stages from the temple.  By the chapter’s end the glory of YHWH is mounted over the cherubim, stationed at the door of the temple’s east gate, and poised to depart”.  (Barton, and Muddiman 542)

Ezekiel’s imagery is sometimes difficult to decipher and often dark and scary; and so we turn to commentary and to our own inner place where God dwells to hear what wisdom comes from these verses today.  In this vision we see the cleansing and refining effect that God’s presence has on his creatures.  This distillation takes place as the soil is readied for the good seed to be planted and flourish.  We sometimes forget that seeds sprout and take root in the dark, and then they rise to the light.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation of the Day by Caryll Houselander, a British mystic, poet, and spiritual teacher:  Christ is that good seed with which our humanity is sown.  Just as he chose to be subject to his own law of nature in his own life on earth, he chooses to be subject to the same law in his life in our souls.  That is the condition of the growth of the Christ-life in us, from the seed to the flower, from the flower to the fruit: “Believe in me when I tell you this: a grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die, or else it remains nothing more than a grain of wheat; but if it dies, then it yields rich fruit”.  The grain of wheat, which is our Christ-life, is subject to the same law.  It must be buried in the earth.  It must be in darkness.  Its growing must be in rest . . . We are the soil of the divine seed; there is no other.  The flowering of Christ in us does not depend upon pious exercises, on good works outside our daily life, on an amateur practice of religion in our leisure time.  It is in the marrow of our bones, in the experience of our daily life.  The seed is in darkness; the darkness of sorrow, the darkness of faith.

When we some across troublesome images like the ones today, or when we hear disturbing and unsettling news; rather than flee from the darkness, let us center ourselves and go within where God speaks patiently.  Let us remember that we are soil for Christ and that this special life is often born out of sadness and darkness.  It is born out of a deep and abiding faith that is witness to God’s glory.

In faith we trust in God, and we praise God.

In faith we await restoration through Christ, and we praise God.

In faith we place our hope in the Spirit, and we praise God.

In faith we seek God’s word, we listen for God’s voice, and we act in God’s ways . . . and we praise God. 

In faith we grow in wisdom and we ready the soil of our lives for the Christ-life to be planted there . . . so that we might know God in the marrow of our bones . . . and praise God. 


A re-post from August 13, 2011.

Images from: http://www.mishkanministries.org/ark_of_the_covenant.htm 

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 542. Print.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 26 January 2011: 361-362. Print.

John 12: This is Why


John 12: This is Why

Sunday, September 23, 2018

That was why the crowd met him—because they heard that he had performed this miracle. 

What do we do when we hear of God’s goodness? Do we dismiss it as coincidence or synchronicity? Do we praise God and give thanks for God’s goodness? Our world discounts the mystical and marvelous when a scientific basis cannot be found for the miracles with which God blesses us every day. If we are in the crowd, do we follow Jesus or turn away to continue with the work and play we have already planned for the day?

Jesus says: A grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. 

What do we do when we hear these words? Do we shrink from the understanding that each of us must die so that we are born for eternity? Do we welcome the unknown and follow Jesus in faith and deed? Our contemporary societies struggle with creating unity as we focus on our differences rather than our common substance and goal. If we are in the crowd, are we willing to follow Jesus when we know that our world we control must become the world God envisions for us?

Then a voice spoke from heaven, “I have brought glory to it, and I will do so again.” The crowd standing there heard the voice, and some of them said it was thunder, while others said, “An angel spoke to him!”

What do we do when we witness God’s presence in our lives? Do we hold this wondrous gift to ourselves? Do we share this good news for all the world to hear? Do we maintain our spirituality in esoteric, cerebral rites full of rules and limitations? Do we allow Christ’s passion for the poor, suffering, and marginalized to possess us fully and open us to amazing possibility? If we are in the crowd, can we say why we follow Christ? Can we say why we ask for transformation? Can we say why we turn to God in both crisis and joy? If we cannot, let us spend time with this reading today.

When we compare varying translations of John 12, we open the door to God’s voice, and heart to God’s creation.


Image from: http://www.gregorydickowonline.com/the-promises-of-god/

Ezekiel 1: Cherubim


Ezekiel 1Cherubim

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Written on March 4, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

More than a year ago we looked at the Cherubim in one of our Noontimes in connection with the opening nine chapters of the Book of Wisdom.

When I think of Wisdom I often think of the description we have read of the winged Cherubim that arch over the Ark in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 6-8), that place in the deepest interior of the Jerusalem temple, that place reserved for men only, that place to which Wisdom drew her priests.  Scripture describes these creatures as guarding the eastern gate of Eden (Genesis 3:24).  The Hebrews fashion Cherubim that watch over the desert Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25, 26, 36, 37 and Numbers 7), and later in the New Testament the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (9) recalls this image to his audience.  The Cherubim remain with the Ark and with these desert people through David’s time (1 Samuel 4) until a permanent kingdom is established when we see them in Solomon’s temple as glorious guardians and companions of the place where God takes up residence.  In Psalms and prayers, the Lord is often seen as seated among or between Cherubim; and in these songs when we place ourselves “beneath the wing” or “in the shadow of the wing” of God, this is the place we find ourselves.  I like to think of these Cherubim as Wisdom, living close by God but calling to us to sit in praise of God . . . for this is where Wisdom finds her most comfortable nest. 

When we look at this opening chapter of Ezekiel, we see that God sits on a throne carried by winged Cherubim.  To read more about the mythological and physical origin of these creatures we can go to: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/cherubim.html  or to http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03646c.htm .

Creatures that live this close to God must be special indeed; yet these beings are no more important to God than each of us.  If we might think about being as close to God as the Cherubim, if we might create an image of the power needed to pull any chariot large enough to encompass our God, if we can imagine the magnitude of wisdom that these creatures symbolize . . . we are well on our way to comprehending the love that God has for us.

As the NEW ADVENT website points out, to Catholics these creatures are more than symbolic.  They are ministers who have an intimate and intense understanding of who God is and how he moves in our lives.  In the fullness of this knowledge they have become “sublime hosts” to God’s presence.

We see these creatures again in Revelation and still they have their fantastic and unique place in God’s kingdom, they are the wheels of God, the wisdom with which and through which God operates.  They are in constant praise of God, and they continually glory in his being and presence.

We might put ourselves in the place of these creatures for a few moments this afternoon and we might contemplate our own imagery of wisdom.  What is it exactly?  How does it operate?  Where does it take us?  To what does it call us?  Why do we seek it?

And then we might sit with these verses for awhile to meditate on them and on what drives our own lives: Wherever the spirit wished to go, there the wheels went . . . such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. 


A re-post from August 22, 2011.

Image from: http://www.bibleorigins.net/CherubimColossalinHolyofHolies.html


Joshua 24The Witness Stone

Friday, September 21, 2018

Today we read about a rite that takes place in Shechem under an oak in the sanctuary of the Lord.  Joshua sets up a standing stone as a witness to all that takes place that day.

Joshua reminds us that the Lord says: I brought you out of a land in which you were asked to serve other gods.  And we reply: We remember well how we were taken in by the false promise of immediate satisfaction . . . and how the Lord saved us from an empty life.

Joshua reminds us that the Lord says: I lead you out of the desert and saved you from those who would see an end of you.  And we reply: We remember well how we hungered for real sustenance and how we were frightened by those who wanted to put an end to us . . . and how the Lord redeemed us with his own life.

Joshua reminds us that the Lord says: I gave you land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.  And we reply: We remember well how you rescued us from privation and provided all for us . . . and how the Spirit continues to abide with us and comfort us.

Joshua reminds us that the Lord says: Love the Lord and serve him completely.  If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling.  As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  And we reply: We will renew this promise with you.

Joshua says to us as he said to his own people: You may not be able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God who will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.  And we reply as the people replied: We will still serve the Lord.

Joshua says to us as he said to his own people: You are your own witnesses that you have chosen to serve the Lord.  And we reply as the people replied: We are, indeed!

And Joshua says . . . This stone shall be our witness, for it has heard all the words which the Lord spoke to us. 

And so we pray . . .

Good and faithful God, we were told that you would not forgive us our transgressions and yet you not only forgive them, you come to walk with us as one of us.  We hear that you are a jealous God and yet we see that your love is tender and nourishing.  We know that you are holy and yet your endless generosity in sharing your life with us amazing to us.  

Like Joshua’s people who affirm their covenant promise to you beneath the oak in the sanctuary at Shechem, we declare today that you are the one, the only, the Living God who loves us more dearly than we can imagine.  In our littleness we cling to you.  In our waywardness we look to you.  In our fear we hope in you. 

We ask that you call us back when we stray from you.  Keep us always close to you so that we might serve you.

We ask that you bind us to you.  Keep us always close to you so that we might serve you.

We ask that you never let us go.  Keep us always close to you so that we might serve you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 


A re-post from August 21, 2011.

To learn more about the Amorites, visit: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1422-amorites

Visit https://www.bibleplaces.com/shechem/ to learn more about Schechem.

Images from: http://www.free-extras.com/images/oak_tree-11917.htm


Luke 18:1-8The Persistent Widow

Thursday, September 20, 2018

This has for a long time been one of my favorite stories.  Perhaps this is because it has to do with the importance of stamina, something I look for daily.   It is so easy to give up.  And it is so important to continue.

Yesterday I spent pilgrim time with friends renewing the soul and remembering what is accurately the most significant work of each day . . . breathing, living, and remaining in God.  The world so quickly distracts us, and we so easily are drawn away from the only path that can lead us to the tranquility we seek.  In the end, there is only God.

The persistent widow and the unjust judge . . . it is likely that this story has universal appeal because the figures represent archetypal images we see and hear each day.  We relish this story because on any given day we are either the judge or the widow and so we know these roles well.  When we are overwhelmed, cranky, and feeling our “underdog” status we lash out at others, trying to snatch what we perceive to be rightfully ours.  We are the unjust judge.  When we are tired but hopeful and we allow God to smooth away fatigue, we come to understand that we must become the persistent widow.  When we are wounded but determined, we come to know for certain that in the end, there is only God.

Elizabeth Seton

Yesterday’s pilgrimage was to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmittsburg, Maryland, a memorial to a woman with a remarkable story.  http://www.setonshrine.org/  Mother Seton was a familiar friend of both sorrow and joy and the details of her biography illustrate that she fully understood her role as a persistent widow.  Her life is a model for those who are determined to remain close to God knowing that although there will be sadness they will fail at nothing and they will never be alone.  Through the turmoil, strife, happiness, and joy of her journey, Elizabeth Seton recognized that in the end, there is only God.

My granddaughter likes a particular saying and recently I gave her a mug with its words printed in blues and purples: Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.  This granddaughter is wise beyond her years for one so young; she already knows how to be the persistent widow.  She understands the importance of doggedness, the need for perseverance, the sensibleness of diligence.   She – and her mother – believe that in the end, there is only God.  They believe, and try to act in the belief that, restoration and resurrection are God’s healing gift.  I thought of them a great deal on our pilgrimage yesterday.

I am convinced that fatigue is the devil’s companion and that our little demon doubts and anxieties weigh us down to exhaust us.  A cloud of anxiety descends and suddenly we find ourselves believing that there is nothing for us but sadness.  Our eyes become clouded and we act as if we are doomed to a life of sorrow when in reality we are creatures of joy.  Spiritual weariness will tell us that we are worth little and that we are alone.  It will take its toll and lead to inertia . . . and so we must keep moving forward in the journey, always seeking God, always asking for healing and rebirth.   We must ask for manna and feed ourselves, always thanking God.  We must “go away for a little while” as Jesus did, and find pilgrim companions who thirst as we thirst and who understand the importance of nourishing one another, always loving God.

I believe that in today’s parable the unjust judge recognizes God in the widow . . . and so he finds in her favor, hoping that no one will notice or remember what she has said.  I also believe that the persistent widow has nourished herself and bolstered her soul for the journey.  She has slacked her thirst and hunger with the manna of God’s goodness, she has rested awhile in the company of those who know and understand her plight.  In this way she has come to fully understand and to act in the belief . . .  that there is nothing but God.  She fully strengthens herself to once more go up against the enormous obstacle that blocks her path, not worrying about what others think of her, only knowing that . . . in the end, there is only God.


A re-post from August 20, 2011.

Images from: http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105 and http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105

Other links of interest about Elizabeth Seton: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/seton.html

http://www.setonshrine.com/ 

 http://www.srcharitycinti.org/about/who_is_elizabeth.htm

Genesis 3: God Has a Plan


Genesis 3God Has a Plan

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Written on March 5 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Yesterday we reflected on the idea that God sets a sign before us; he comes to live among us in the person of Jesus.  Today we reflect on the reality that God has a plan in mind; he does not come to humanity as an afterthought.  It has always been his idea to be born of woman as a redeemer of his own creation.  God’s plan is to create us and to give us a choice of eternal life or death in the world.  God’s plan is to come to us as a saver and protector who will lead us out of the physical and into the spiritual world.  God’s plan is to abide with us as a comforter and lover who brings us wisdom, forgiveness and compassion.  God’s plan is to lay before us life and death.  God’s plan is that we choose life . . . but he allows us to choose death.

Amazingly, even though we may make poor choices, God is still willing to allow us to atone and in fact God rejoices when we reverse course to turn back to him.  God knows that Satan patrols the world as we have examined in Job 1:7.  God knows it is Satan who has tempted Adam and Eve to think that he holds the mystery of eternal life when it is God who actually does.   And God knows how and why we will choose between self-serving pride and life-sustaining humility at the hinge points of our lives.  And through all of this, God abides.  This is God’s plan.

Satan tempts Jesus in the desert and when he does, these are Jesus’ responses.

Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone.

You must do homage to the Lord your God, him alone must you serve.

Do not put your Lord your God to the test. 

At the end of this passage, the Gospel remarks: Having exhausted every way of putting [Jesus] to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment. 

And so when Satan approaches to test us and to draw us away from God, as he does so often, let us stick to God’s plan and let us pray the words Jesus uses when tempted by Satan in the desert – the words of God come to walk among us on earth.

Dear Lord, deliver us and remind us that we do not live on bread alone.

Dear Lord, protect us and remind us that it is you alone we serve.

Dear Lord, love us and deliver us from this test. 

Dear Lord, do not allow us to become blind by the light of adversaries who seek to dazzle us with their moments of opportunity

Dear Lord, abide with us always. 

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


A re-post from August 19, 2011.

Image from: http://www.i-church.org/gatehouse/index.php?page=25 


Isaiah 66:18-24God Sets a Sign

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Witten on March 4 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

For I know their works and their thoughts . . .

Isaiah reminds us that God sees all; there are no secrets.  Just a few days ago we heard the words of Jesus as recorded by Luke telling us that what is whispered in the dark will come to light.  It is impossible to hide from God for God is omniscient and all-knowing.

And I am coming to gather all the nations and tongues . . .

Isaiah reminds us that God is all powerful; he can do all things.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Jesus tells us that what is impossible with men is possible for God.  (Luke 18:27, Mark 10:27, Matthew 19:26)  It is impossible to conquer God who is omnipotent and eternal.

And they shall come and shall see my glory . . .

Isaiah reminds us that God is awesome; in the Old Testament we are told to fear, or to stand in awe of God for this reason.  Jesus tells us that once we walk in God’s way, nothing will be impossible for us (Matthew 17:20) that his glory is our glory. This is the measure of God’s might and love. It is impossible for God to be or do evil for our compassionate God is goodness itself.

And I will set a sign among them.

Isaiah reminds us that God knows the faithful just as the faithful know God.  Jesus tells the Father that he has come to gather in those faithful.  When we bear witness to evil, we also bear the sign of God on our foreheads.  It is impossible for God to forget or neglect us for God is love itself.

Isaiah lived at a time of deep and corrosive corruption and he understood the damage this kind of erosion has on people.  He warned against the decay and fire that envelops those who neglect God’s way.  His words continue to instruct us today.  Jesus too, teaches us the lessons we need to know in order to be numbered in those who know and recognize God with ease.

St. Paul writes to the people of Philippi (4:8) one of the simplest yet truest and most beautiful descriptions of Christian living.  Once we take these words in and own them, we have no need to fear the dire consequences we see in Isaiah today.  Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  If we can say that we seek truth, purity, and beauty, if we act in honor and justice, if we live grace-filled days . . . we need not fear the harvester’s sword.

God has set a sign among us.  That sign is Christ.  We need not fear Isaiah’s predictions when we respond to God’s call as St. Paul urges.  Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious . . . this is excellence . . . this is worthy of praise . . . this is worthy of our time . . . this is God among us . . . this is Christ.  Amen.


A re-post from August 18, 2011.

Image from: http://omgzi.blogspot.com/2010/10/ichthys-sign-of-fish.html

Sirach 33:16-19: Gleaning


Sirach 33:16-19: Gleaning

Monday, September 17, 2018

Written on March 3 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Francois Millet: The Gleaners

We keep our sorrows to ourselves, thinking that no one wants to hear what has gone wrong for us.  This is a mistake.  We are called to share sorrow and to accompany one another in this journey of discerning how to best word in God’s vineyard.  It does not matter how or when we come to this realization.  It only matters that we eventually arrive there.

Now I was last to keep vigil; I was like a gleaner following the grape-pickers; by the blessing of the Lord I arrived first, and like grape-pickers I filled my wine press.

By dwelling on our sorrows or by thinking that our lives are more pain-filled than anyone else’s we rob ourselves – and our companions in life’s journey – of the opportunity to experience Christ’s healing presence.  It does not matter if we feel we have little to offer, it only matters that we offer who we are to others in need.

Consider that I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek instruction. Hear me, you who are great among the people, and you leaders of the congregation, pay heed!

Patience, fidelity, generosity, trust in God . . . when I think of those who have taught me to climb out of sorrow and into joy, these are the qualities that make these teachers greater than any titled leader with power.  If we turn to the beginning of Sirach (2:1-6), we find more instruction.

My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.  Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.  Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous.  Accept what befalls you, and in times of humiliations be patient.  For gold is tested in fire, and those found acceptable in the furnace of humiliation.  Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight and hope in him. 

We have frequently reflected in our Noontimes that the silversmith’s fire is essential to smelt out the detritus that makes us less bright and pure.  The prophet Malachi (3:1-3) reminds us that the refiner must remain constantly by the fire in order that it burn just hot enough to do its work without destroying the ore.  The life of those who choose to respond to God’s call is laden with many burdens . . . but these burdens convert to sweet justice when we lay all our complaints and pains before God.   We who come to God’s fields to glean what is left after the harvester passes by, engage in holy work for we lift up lost souls to God.  When we enter fully into this work to place the world’s sorrows in God’s capable hands, we – like the sadness we bear to God – are transformed by the smelter’s fire into bright, lovely and holy offerings . . .  and we become the delight we imagine.  So as we glean, let us imagine God’s joy well.


A re-post from August 17, 2011.

Image from: http://www.smithinet.com/Louvre/Louvre_art.html#gleaners 

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