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Proverbs 16: Plans of the Heart – A Reprise 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Today, as we journey through Proverbs, we reprise a post from several years ago in which we see that . . . Everything Belongs.

Man may make plans in his heart, but what the tongue utters is from the Lord.  All the ways of man may be pure in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves the spirit.  Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.  The Lord has made everything for his own ends, even the wicked for the evil day . . . In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.

Humans have a fertile imagination; and weaving a story about ourselves is part of what we do as we form our self-concept.  We are often anxious about the future:  What am I to do?  Where am I to go?  What am I to say?  How am I to act?  We may worry about the past:  Why was I so blind?  How did I miss what they were saying?  And all the time we worry . . . we are missing the blessed present . . . with its opportunity to open our hearts to God’s economy.  The writer of Proverbs reminds us that the best plans are those guided by God.  Trusting in divine providence is so very difficult . . . yet so essential to serene living.

Better a little with virtue, than a large income with injustice . . . How much better to acquire wisdom than gold!  To acquire understanding is more desirable than silver . . . A patient man is better than a warrior, and he who rules his temper, than he who takes a city.

Wisdom is our best instructor.  Living a life characterized by prudence and temperance is difficult in a society which values the supersize in everything.  It is easy to overdo: too much food, too much drink, too much money spent on heat or air conditioning, too much television, too many movies, too many books, too many people making claims on our time, too much aloneness, too much neglect, too much fuss.  Is there such a thing as too much justice?  Too much hope?  Too much faith or hope?  Too much love?  Finding moderation and balance is a challenge; but our model is the Christ, who interchanged periods of heavy activity with times of prayer and retreat . . . leaving his sacred heart open to God’s plan.

By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by fear [love] of the Lord man avoids evil.

It is never too late to be open to a conversion of the heart.  There is always time to enter through the narrow gate, to step onto the narrow road, to sow peace rather than discord.  It is never too late to open the door and windows of the mind . . . to allow the master planner to enter the heart . . .  to move us through our days . . . to guide us in our thoughts . . . to thaw our stiffened necks . . . to melt our hardened hearts.

Let us vow today to open ourselves . . . to the mind of God . . . that we might receive our plans from God’s own sacred heart.

 

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Proverbs 9Folly or Wisdom

Saturday, July 29, 2017

There are seven columns on the front portico of Notre Dame Preparatory. The design is not casual; it is meant to evoke the columns upon which Wisdom builds her house where all are invited to sit at the feasting table of instruction, where we learn of, about and in God.  Wisdom also sends out maidens to call others into her house of training.  From the HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE: Poems on Woman Wisdom (9. 1-6) and Woman Folly (9.13-18) frame a central collection of sayings (9.7-12).  The focus on the houses of the two women continues familiar themes [seeking and finding as a quest for Wisdom, seduction of worldly things, choosing which house to enter, the ideal wife] and also seems to expand upon the proverb in 14.1 [The wise woman builds her own house but the foolish tears it down with her own hands]. (Meeks 954)

This description is followed by a description built of opposite parallels, with more typical themes for living an ordinary life in an unordinary way.  If only we choose the portal of wisdom, we will see which way to go when the road of life bifurcates to the right and left.

There are seasons when we have enter into a holy period of spiritual quiet and anticipation much like a mother about to give birth; but this quiet and virtue are juxtaposed against the clamor of the commercial world in which we exist.  When we open our eyes and ears each morning, what is it we see and hear?  When we step out the door and move to the car or the bus, what are we thinking?  As we breathe and move through the day, what do we do?  As we interact with others, what do we intend?

Wisdom calls us from the heights of God’s instruction.  She invites all to feast and relax with God.  She prepares a banquet, readies the house, and serves as the handmaiden of God in a plan that is too wide and too amazing to comprehend.

As we move from place to place today, as we greet and say good-bye to others, and as we return to our own houses to lay our burdens down before we put tired heads upon pillows, what do we see as the path of our day?  And what do we imagine for tomorrow?

Do we choose the House of Folly . . . or the House of Wisdom . . . ?

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on December 1, 2009.

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Proverbs 8: Armloads of Life

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wisdom and Creation, A Reprise

Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling?
    Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
    at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
    where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
    everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
    You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
    I’m telling you how to live at your best.

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before, and today we look at it again with fresh eyes as we consider . . . the gift of creation in each of us, and in the micro and macro-universe we inhabit. Today we reprise our reflection on the wisdom of God’s creation (https://thenoontimes.com/2013/09/07/wisdom-and-creation/) as we consider again the mystery of God’s love for us.

 I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.

These words are an invitation we will want to accept.

My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
    the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
    at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
    filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

The verses cited in this post are from the MESSAGE translation of Proverbs. To compare other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus.

To watch life on a reef off the Maldives, click on the sealife image or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1oGyZL0qjM

For an interesting take on the multiverse, click on the image of planets above, or visit: http://www.chattanoogapulse.com/columns/just-a-theory/living-your-life-in-a-multiverse/ 

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Proverbs 7: Lady Wisdom

Titian: Wisdom

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Infidelity, A Reprise

Who or what is Lady Wisdom? When have we seen her? Where does she reside? Might she visit our hearts and homes for even the briefest of moments? Is she willing to take up residence with us?

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before and today we look at it again with fresh eyes as we consider . . . who are the seducers and co-dependents in our lives; what are our addictions? What is it we cannot resist? And why do the writers of these ancient, sacred texts take us back to examine our own infidelities and loyalties? Is it possible that we deceive ourselves too easily? Might we prefer the forgetfulness of denial and reject the discomfort of recognition? As always with God, the ogre we fear is nothing more than a tiny image of our worst anxiety blown out of proportion. So today we reprise our reflection on infidelity (https://thenoontimes.com/2012/10/16/infidelity/) as we consider again the mystery of God’s love for us.

Not that God created us in God’s image.  Not that God loves us; but that, despite our constant turning away, God remains a faithful, ardent lover – always calling, always wooing, always calling to life.  Always calling to true and lasting joy.

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Isaiah: Restoration


Isaiah: Restoration

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Keeping each of you in prayer while I am away from electronics. Holding you in prayer at noon each day.

We rise, put on our strength and let the bonds fall away from our necks.

We are an Easter People. We examine ourselves. We investigate the brokenness and sorrow. We lean on one another. We accept the fact that we must trust God alone. We find the comfort of Christ in others who share our grief. We are the compassion of Christ for one another as we respond to the grief in those around us. We wait through the darkness in active and hopeful patience . . . and then, just as promised, we are restored. The promise we know we were destined to live is fulfilled.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this prophecy, we find hope in the darkness, the promise of restoration, and the fulfillment we seek. 

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Lamentations: In the Darkness

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Keeping each of you in prayer while I am away from electronics. Holding you in prayer at noon each day.

We gather our worn flesh and our broken bones. We take one last look around us at the weariness, poverty and darkness in which we find ourselves . . . and we prepare for restoration.

Just when we believe that we escape all that terrifies us, we learn again that life holds no guarantee. Just when we believe that we escape our worries and anxieties, we learn again that eternal life is a promise on which we can rely.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this book, we discover that there is no guarantee that we will not suffer; but there is a guarantee that the light of God’s love will overcome the darkness to bring us new life. 

 

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1 Timothy: Community

Friday, July 14, 2017

We share these reflections from Holy Week of 2007 while I am away from electronics. Keeping all of you in prayer each day at noon.

Use those words [of prophecy] as weapons in order to fight well, and keep your faith and a clear conscience. (Verses 18-19)

Once we have examined ourselves and become vulnerable to God, we will allow ourselves to form a true community, one with the hallmarks of Humility, Purity, Family, Justice and Mercy.

Paul’s advice to Timothy – and to us – reminds us that we rest in the Old Testament as we enact the New.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this letter, we find words that bring new energy to old worries, new healing to old wounds, and new life to old communities. 

 

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2 Corinthians: Human Infirmities

Thursday, July 13, 2017

We share these reflections from Holy Week of 2007 while I am away from electronics. Keeping all of you in prayer each day at noon.

Once we trust God, and once we make a faithful and honest Examination of Self, we enter into intimacy with God. This special relationship brings with it a new understanding of how and why we are grateful after a time of affliction. This new relationship that comes to us after great tribulation, and after a new understanding of our human frailty, is God’s celebration of new life and a new creation in us.

Paul’s description of the valleys and mountains in his relationship with the people of Corinth is a mirror of his – and our – relationship with God. We can rely on Jesus to shepherd us, and the Spirit to heal us.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this letter, we realize that none of us is perfect; and we discover that with each crisis and the ensuing aftermath, we arrive at a newness we had not thought possible. We also discover anew that with God, all that appears to be impossible is, in reality, possible.

 

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Wisdom: Searching for Justice

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

We share these reflections from Holy Week of 2007 while I am away from electronics. Keeping all of you in prayer at noon each day.

Wisdom preserves her followers. When we trust in God and listen in active patience, we are restored. Once we give over all control to the one who created us, we are able to put aside our ego, envy, pride and anxiety. Our search for justice is complete not when we achieve justice, but when we place our hopes and

Wisdom arrives in the cacophony that surrounds us when we exercise patience and the willingness to listen for God’s voice. Jesus tells us that God hears the prayer of each one of us, even when we whisper in the darkness as we wait for the dawn.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this book, we find words that bring us hope and courage.

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