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Posts Tagged ‘foolishness’


Proverbs 19Advice

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Better a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is crooked in his ways and rich. 

Yesterday we reflected on the paradox present in Jesus’ life and words; today we hear solid advice on the inversion we find between wealth and poverty.  We cannot change our heredity and life’s circumstances are sometimes difficult to accept and navigate; yet somewhere inside us we look and hope for better outcomes than the ones we see looming before us.  We want to change attitudes and behaviors yet all we can change is ourselves . . . and these changes come after much self-examination and brutal honesty.  Life-altering transformation is usually painful, and always worth the struggle when we keep God at the center of all things.

He who gains intelligence is his own best friend; he who keeps understanding will be successful. 

Intelligence and folly are qualities we constantly evaluate in ourselves and others.  We judge; we are judged by others.  Sometimes we are too critical and at other times we discern too little.  We dance between the surface and the depths of our emotions looking for pat answers to complicated questions.  True balance coming from wisdom is rarely found, and always worth nurturing when we stumble upon it.

Humility, fidelity, integrity and understanding . . . pride, anger, deceit and laziness.  Life presents us with lesson plans to identify and sort these qualities, and to cultivate in ourselves and others or to avoid them altogether.

Punishment, instruction, children revering parents, parents respecting children, generations passing along practical advice and warnings so that humanity might improve its lot and learn from our shared experiences.  Some of us are able to learn vicariously; others cannot.

Jesus teaches in parables while the writers of proverbs give us plain, personal, honest views of their lives.  This advice and these warnings come to us not from a sense of superiority or egotism but from a genuine desire to see people progress, and from an authentic love for humanity.

The advice we read in scripture is meant to serve as more than an instrument we might use to avoid the repetition of errors; and it may be difficult to take in and even more difficult to use, but it is something we are free to accept or to decline.  The words we read today – once we make them part of our thinking – have the power to convert our bitterness into joy and our anger into love.  These words – once we use them to construct personal lessons for change – may liberate us from negative thinking; they may forestall unhelpful reactions.  These words may be more important than we know . . . and more significant than we imagine.  We have only to take them in and make them our own.

And so we pray . . .

Dear and good Lord, help us to discern the lesson you have in mind for us today.  Guide us in examining ourselves without creating overwhelming guilt.  Help us to serve as good sounding boards for friends who accompany us on our journey.  Steer me away from arrogance, false witness and rash judgment.  Preserve us from the harmful qualities we read about today: sloth, arrogance, anger, envy, greed, pride, and the temptation to lie. Nurture in us the qualities Jesus shows us always: compassion, constancy, empathy, generosity, humility, and steadfastness.  May we understand that to stand in awe of you and your works is a privilege.  Grant that we understand your mercy and in turn bestow it on others.  May we come to live in your spirit, always taking in the ample advice you give us in our journey home to you.  Amen.


A re-post from September 3, 2011.

Image from: http://covenantofthecross.info/listening-for-god/

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Sirach 51: 13-30: Pursuit of Wisdom – Part III

Saturday, September 3, 2016path-of-wisdom

Come aside to me, you untutored,
    and take up lodging in the house of instruction;

How long will you deprive yourself of wisdom’s food,
    how long endure such bitter thirst?

We remember the verses from Proverbs 9: Wisdom has set up her house and prepared her banquet.

I open my mouth and speak of her:
    gain wisdom for yourselves at no cost.

Take her yoke upon your neck;
    that your mind may receive her teaching.

Wisdom has sent her handmaidens to invite all who long for her consolation. (Proverbs 9)

For she is close to those who seek her,
    and the one who is in earnest finds her.

See for yourselves! I have labored only a little,
    but have found much.

Acquire but a little instruction,
    and you will win silver and gold through her.

Wisdom asks that we abandon our foolishness; she invites us to choose her path. (Proverbs 9)

May your soul rejoice in God’s mercy;
    do not be ashamed to give him praise.
Work at your tasks in due season,
    and in his own time God will give you your reward.

Wisdom knows that patience and openness to God bring us insight, understanding, strength and peace. Let us be faithful to the gift of God’s wisdom. Let us share in the hope of God’s Wisdom. And let us rest in the love and joy of Wisdom’s care.

Tomorrow, a prayer for Lady Wisdom.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore Proverbs 9, we hear Wisdom’s invitation to join her. For a reflection on Wisdom’s Path, click on the image above or visit: https://heartofashepherd.com/2014/12/01/proverbs-132-33-a-mans-destination-is-determined-by-the-path-he-chooses/ 

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Matthew 13:54-14:2: Opinionsover-inflating-your-opinion

March 23, 2015

He did not work many mighty deeds in his native place because of their lack of faith. The opinion of those who knew Jesus as a child blocks his neighbors from seeing what is so plainly true.

Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25) What, then, does human opinion matter if we do not move and live in God?

Paul tells the Ephesians and he tells us that by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:6-9) How, then, are we to believe that we can heal and restore unless we heal and restore in Christ Jesus?

Paul asks the Galatians and he asks us: Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:3-5) Why, then, might we put aside the Spirit and believe that we are complete without God’s indwelling presence?

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him”.  The opinion of the one who ruled over Jesus’ native land is influenced by the power he wields and the influence he exerts on others.

Might we compare our own opinion of Jesus with that of those who knew him so well? What is our vision of wisdom, grace, faith, weakness and foolishness? How do we receive the miracle of life that awakens us each day and accompanies us to bed each night?

In our Lenten journey we pause to consider . . . whose opinions matter most to us . . . and how do these opinions influence our thoughts and deeds each day?

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mark 13:32-37

Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow: The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow: The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Watch!

We began our exploration of Mark 13 reminding ourselves that we preach the Gospel with each action we perform each minute of each day. What does our life say about our awareness of the importance of watchfulness? Where do our feet take us as we live out the Word? What do our hands do as we move through our days? How carefully do our ears listen to our friends and companions? How honestly do we look others in the eye? How truthfully do we live out our understanding that all temples to self will fall, all teachers and prophets are not authentic, and all tribulations bring us closer to God? Why is it essential to understand that Christ is among us now?  What have we learned from the lesson of the fig tree?

Jesus tells us the Parable of the Ten Virgins:  Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him”.  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out”. But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves”. And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, “Lord, lord, open up for us”.  But he answered, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you”. Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13)

virgin with lampWe are presented with the choice to be foolish or prudent. We are free to decide if we will or will not carry a flask of oil to replenish the lamp of life we have been generously given.  We have ears to hear and eyes to see; yet we do not know the hour and we do not know the day when we will be called to an accounting. What Gospel are we preaching with the days of our lives?

For a fresh perspective on this parable, click on the Bible link above and read another of the preselected versions of this story or choose one of your own . . . and discover how Jesus’ words speak to us in a new way about the old theme of watchfulness

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Robert Zünd: The Road to Emmaus

Robert Zünd: The Road to Emmaus

Monday, May 5, 2014

Luke 24:25-27

Our Experience of Christ Part III

Jesus taught his disciples saying: “You foolish men! So slow to believe all that the prophets have said! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer before entering into his glory?” Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them all the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself”. 

God says: There was a man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and then went on a journey for a long time.  At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenant farmers to receive some of the produce of the vineyard. But they beat the servant and sent hom away empty-handed. So he proceeded to send another servant, but him also they beat and sent away . . . Then he proceeded to send a third, but this one too they wounded and threw out. The owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I shall send my beloved son; maybe they will respect him”. But when the tenant farmers saw him they said to one another, “This is the heir. Let us kill him that the inheritance may become ours”. So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him”.  (Luke 20:9-15)

If we believe God to be away on a long journey we are mistaken. God dwells within each of us to guide and protect. If we believe that Jesus died in vain we would be incorrect. Jesus walks beside us to save and lead. If we believe that the Spirit hides in fear we have strayed from the very truth that lives in us. The Spirit calls and comforts, advises and consoles.

Let us not be mistaken. Let us not live in error.  Let us read more of the story recorded by Luke and determine for certain just how we characterize our own experience of the Christ who dies to save.

For more on Jesus on the road to Emmausclick on the image above or go to: http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm

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Today marks the 34th anniversary of the death of Bishop Oscar Romero.  View this powerful music video produced by The Martyrs Project at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21CN815v2G0&feature=youtu.be

Or return to the Amos and Amaziah post at https://thenoontimes.com/2014/03/20/amos-and-amaziah/ 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Prophet Amos

The Prophet Amos

Amos 9:1-8

Vision of the Altar

“Amos’ final vision (9:1-4) does not begin with the same formula [as the other visions] and, this time, does not involve objects or animals.  Instead, he sees God, who stands beside an altar. The mention of capitals and thresholds suggests a real temple . . . God begins by acting in the temple; both the people and structure itself will fall, and although readers have been made aware that no one will escape, God’s determination to root out every last person is highlighted here”. (Mays 652)

Climbing to the heavens, hiding in the bottom of the sea, ascending to the summit of Carmel, living in captivity. It does not matter where the Ethiopians, Philistines, Arameans, Israelites or any of us hides, all the peoples of the world are known to God.  Why does Amos tell us this? What does he expect from us? How might we use his words, how might we interpret these woes, what are we to make of his visions?

Rather than seeing this imagery as a dualistic, black-or-white, either-or world of good people and bad in which some suffer and others are saved . . . let us consider that each of us is both foolish and faithful.  Let us put away our pride and greed and instead focus on living our lives as positive manifestations of God’s hope for us. Let us decide what or how we will amend our habits and customs as we bring the gift of ourselves to the altar.  And as our Lenten act of fidelity, let us determine to show our gratitude for the depth and breadth and height of God’s enormous love.

Tomorrow, Messianic Perspective.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 652. Print.

For more on the significance of Mount Carmel, visit: http://www.bibleplaces.com/mtcarmel.htm 

For more information on the peoples named by Amos, see the following site and visit these links.

Arameans: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0002_0_01227.html

Philistines: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Philistines.html

Ethiopians: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ejhist.html

 

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