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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’


Sirach 25-27: The Ideal Wife

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

While we are looking to the “passions” for fulfillment, our desire for the infinite is doomed to be frustrated.  Once we realize this, we discover that God alone can satisfy the need which is basic to our nature.  (Olivier Clément, author and professor of Eastern Christian Spirituality in Paris, MAGNIFICAT Meditation of the Day, for yesterday.)

Today’s Noontime tells us all we need to know about integrity when in relationship with one another and with God.  The Description of an Ideal Wife (26:1-18) falls just in the middle of this selection and we find it bracketed by descriptions of Wicked Versus Virtuous Women, and Dangers to Integrity and Friendship.  Jesus Ben Sirach cannot be more specific in his description of what an ideal wife does in her household and in her relationships.  Since we are each called to be the bride of the groom, Jesus, we might consider what this ode has to say to us.  Our marital state, sexual orientation and gender do not matter.  What does matter here is this: that we examine what it is that moves us, what calls us to passion of any kind – physical, mental, spiritual – and that we respond with integrity in every single relationship and every single place just as described in the image of the ideal wife in today’s reading.

All of this reminds me of yesterday’s meditation in MAGNIFICAT.  Clément continues by citing Origen (an early Egyptian Christian theologian who lived in Alexandria from 185 to 254 C.E).  Origen has described a striking vision of the soul plumbing the depths of evil by experiencing the horror of excess; after actually dying, having journeyed through the infernal regions, it eventually realizes that evil has its limitation, that one can be surfeited with it to the point of utter boredom.  Then God is revealed as alone inexhaustible, to whom everyone, even Satan, will turn in the end.

We hope so.  Perhaps in this way there is a purpose to pain and suffering – no matter how stark and how deep.  Clément writes that when we enter into suffering with Christ, we discover something we never dared hope for, that our hellish autonomy has been breached by sin, death and despair, that these have opened us to the mercy of the living God. 

In our twenty-first century relativistic world in which we value autonomy above all else – even if it is hellish – we might read today’s lesson and smirk, thinking that the images of the ideal wife are quaint and outdated.  But they are not.  They are as valid and as prescient and as imperative today as on the day they were written.

We fool ourselves when we think we can out-run, out-smart or out-maneuver evil.  No matter how comfortable, how connected and how clever we are, we find – in the end – that we have only out-maneuvered ourselves.  We have gotten no further.  We have not held onto the fleeting sensations of pleasure.

Seeking pleasure is not seeking God, it is seeking after satisfaction.  Pleasure is good in that it gives us an immediate sense of happiness and the impetus to search for true joy; but the happiness brought by pleasure does not last.

Searching for meaning in life will not give us that which our souls seek . . . a true and intense relationship with something that will never go away, never fade.  Only God has the capacity to love this well and this constantly.

Looking for ourselves in excesses, abstentions, infatuations or addictions does not bring us true serenity and joy; it does not bring us to a true understanding of who we are and what we mean.  Only in God do we find ourselves.  And only in giving ourselves over to God as the ideal wife gives herself over to her vocation, do we enter into his bliss.


A re-post from March 27, 2012.

Image from: http://samanthamccowan.theworldrace.org/?filename=biblical-love

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 12 March 2009. Print.

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The Wisdom Tree

Proverbs 28Seek Prudence

Friday, November 17, 2017

So many wise thoughts.

The wicked are more frightened than the good.

Security happens through prudence rather than force.

Wealth is a deluge that wipes out everything rather than nourish as does a constant rain.

Happiness lies in true integrity; truth to self is a worthy companion and leads to wisdom.

Happiness lies in seeking justice through the law, rather than force.

Gluttony is an excess of nourishment and has outcomes other than physical obesity.

Take advantage of people if you like but in the end someone will distribute all that you have saved to those who have nothing.

When we pray outside of the God’s law of love, we actually pray to the darkness.

Those who seduce the innocent are constructing their own gibbet, while the innocent will be rescued.

Self-importance is false value; everyone else sees the self-conjurer behind the façade (or the wizard behind the curtain).

We all know when incompetent people are in charge . . . even the incompetents themselves.

We might as well admit our faults; they will be pointed out to us anyway.

Happiness lies in softening our hearts.

People know evil when they see it.

Being idle is a dangerous pastime.

Happiness lies in being worthy of trust; not in money or possessions.

Happiness lies in total commitment and fidelity to the law.

Greed is its own terrible all-consuming end.

Happiness lies in knowing when and how to rebuke a brother or sister with love rather than seeking a relationship through flattery.

Happiness lies in seeking and receiving wisdom.

Happiness lies in following the way of the just, even when evil reigns.

When we seek wisdom, we find it in all that is good.

Adapted from a Favorite written on November 4, 2007.

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Acts 14:21-27: Muscle and Sinew

Monday, May 2, 2016

Jacob Jordaens: The Apostles, St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra

Jacob Jordaens: The Apostles, St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra

What is our vision of heaven and eternal happiness? How do we imagine the work of the kingdom? Paul and Barnabas today show us that discipleship calls for muscle and sinew just as much as it calls for faith, hope and love. We might learn something from this reading today. These two ardent followers of Christ show us just what kingdom work looks like.

Proclaim the good news – We always have the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection before us.

Strengthen the spirits of the disciples – We always have the Spirit of God to guide us.

Exhort the disciples to persevere in faith – We always have the energy of Christ within us.

Appoint elders – We always have the power and wisdom of God moving us.

Commend the faithful to the LORD with prayer and fasting – We always have the grace of the Spirit to console us.

Call the faithful together to report your progress – We always have the voice of Jesus to call us.

When we join in the work of building the kingdom, we will always have the muscle and sinew for the task before us.

They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (Mark 16:20)

To learn more about Paul and Barnabas in Lystra, read Acts 14:8-28.

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James 5:1-6: Softening the Calluses on Our Heartshard-heart1

Sunday, October 25, 2015

When we listen to these two Ted Talks, James’ words take on a deeper meaning, and open a new horizon of happiness.

Practicing the Science of Happiness

https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy

Dan Gilbert authored STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS and challenges our ideas about what makes us happy.

Want to be happy? Be grateful . . . it is not happiness that makes us happy; it is gratefulness. Brother David Steindl-Rast teaches us how to use these simple words: Stop . . . Look . . . Go.

https://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful

Today we pray,

callus heartDear Lord, now that we have heard, we must act. Soften not only our hearts, but our eyes and ears as well. Help us to recognize the times that we initiate or join in slander or detraction. Give us the humility and grace we need to always see the actions of our sisters and brothers a favorable light. Help us to sort out and blow away the rust and corrosion that we have allowed in our lives. Help us to remember that we are wisps of fog, puffs of smoke. Continue to call us to do what is right, what is just and what is merciful. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

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John 21: Glory, Part XIV – Epilogue

Mike Moyers: Breakfast At Dawn

Mike Moyers: Breakfast At Dawn

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Disappointment, fear, hatred, trouble, emptiness, and doubt – these are the valleys we traverse on our road with God’s glory. Jesus washes our feet, gives us life on his great vine of love, tells us of the Advocate and asks us to hand ourselves over for the gift healing unity. And Jesus asks that we hand ourselves over in humility as true followers rather than passing fans. These are the gifts we have discovered on our road with God’s glory. Today’s we look at our final lesson on Glory: The epilogue of the Jesus story is the prologue of our own. How do we wish to tell it?

When we spend time with the last chapter of John’s Gospel, we will find many parallels between the lives of the apostles and our own. We can look at this brief list and add examples of our own discipleship.

  • The apostles go back to their old way of earning a living when Jesus leaves; and this is what we often do when we discover something about the kingdom but do not quite own it. We revert to what is familiar, even if it is not good.
  • Jesus calls his followers “children”. If these fishermen and the women who tend to this group are children then certainly so are we.
  • It is the beloved apostle, John, who recognizes Jesus while the others do not. We can imagine how many times a day Jesus walks past us without our noticing.
  • Peter is so excited when he sees Jesus on the shoreline that he leaps from the boat to walk on water, doubts and falters, but rises when Jesus encourages him. We also do this when we respond to God’s call, flounder, yet are raised up by the Creator.
  • When Jesus tells the tired apostles where to fish there are too many to haul on board in the same body of water where there were none. Too often we are tempted to cease just fishing when we need to continue.
  • Jesus cooks and eats with his tired followers. The Resurrected Jesus is just as real as the Human Jesus, they are one and the same. And this man who loves us so much and so well calls us to be nourished in him. He calls us to this same resurrection that he experiences.

Footnotes and commentary tell us that the character of this last chapter of John has non-Johannine “peculiarities” that suggest it was written by Luke.  Others say that it was definitely written by John.  Whoever the writer, it is clear that he is impelled to depict with clarity the surprise and happiness of these disciples Jesus knows so well. The writer is also eager for his readers to experience this same surprise and happiness in their own lives. And so it is with the last verse that he invites us to add our own stories of glory in and with God to this incredible story of goodness, mercy and light in a world that is too often dark . . . There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

Jesus is as big as all of us.  Jesus is as small and intimate as each of us. Separately and together we are Christ. How do we take him into the world every day?  Is this epilogue the end of the story . . . or is it the beginning of another encounter between us and our God? Is this the beginning or the end of God’s glory?

Adapted from a reflection written on February 26, 2008.

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Sirach 51:23-30: In Earnestlistening To God

March 11, 2015

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

Much is written about wisdom and finding the key that unlocks access to her depths. We spend many hours and a great deal of money looking for the wisest ways to earn a living, to make solid friendships, to find the magical access to happiness. And while we search, we often overlook Wisdom’s presence in the simplest of times, the most unpretentious spaces, and the humblest of relationships. Wisdom is not to be found in the glitz and glory; rather, Wisdom makes her home with the meek, the ordinary and the earnest.

If we spend time with these verses today and compare varying versions of the text, let us take stock of the places we frequent, the people we befriend, and the time we spend with our creator.

In some traditions, the book of Sirach is categorized as Apocrypha. Use the scripture link to explore different versions of this citation and listen in earnest for Wisdom’s whispered words.

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joyTuesday, November 18, 2014

Tobit 5

Joy and Desperation

We move further into the Old Testament looking for stories of joy that might surprise us. If today’s story calls you to search further, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. For the next few says, our story is taken from the Book of Tobit.

If you have not had time for the story of Tobit, begin to read it today. It brings us a world of frustration and renewal, desperation and hope, deep sorrow and overwhelming joy. It features the healing touch of the Archangel Gabriel and the surprising good news that even the most dire circumstances give us a reason for courage and happiness.

Rembrandt: Sarah Waiting for Tobias

Rembrandt: Sarah Waiting for Tobias

Tobit 5:9-10: Then Tobias went out and called [the young man], and said, “Young man, my father is calling for you.” So he went in to him, and Tobit greeted him first. He replied, “Joyous greetings to you!” But Tobit retorted, “What joy is left for me anymore? I am a man without eyesight; I cannot see the light of heaven, but I lie in darkness like the dead who no longer see the light. Although still alive, I am among the dead. I hear people but I cannot see them.” But the young man said, “Take courage; the time is near for God to heal you; take courage.” Then Tobit said to him, “My son Tobias wishes to go to Media. Can you accompany him and guide him? I will pay your wages, brother.” He answered, “I can go with him and I know all the roads, for I have often gone to Media and have crossed all its plains, and I am familiar with its mountains and all of its roads.”

Rembrandt: Tobit and Anna

Rembrandt: Tobit and Anna

When we welcome the stranger into our lives we may unwittingly welcome a healing angel. When we open ourselves to the gift of courage we may unknowingly find the surprise of quiet joy. When we trust in God’s messengers to guide us along unknown roads we may suddenly find new paths to cross uncharted plains and looming mountains.

Spend time with the first five Chapters of Tobit today and discover the surprise of God’s healing presence. Look for Anna and Sarah, and anticipate what might happen with the desperation that has taken over their lives.

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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imagesCAYBROG0Thursday, June 5, 2014

1 John 5:1-5

Victory Over the World

We study John’s first letter and we see the logic in believing that our faith will help us to move away from the easy commandment the world gives us of taking care of self.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God . . .

We also feel the tug of faith based on Christ, the certainty of hope placed in God and the serenity of love found in the Spirit.

Everyone who loves the father also loves the one begotten by him . . .

Yet still we may struggle with how it is that this victory that John describes – and the victory we want to experience – takes place in us.

In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey God’s commandments . . .

We might look for certain answers to our many questions and ask for more solid information, but this negates the process that John describes of coming to know Christ through faith.

For the love of God is this, that we keep God’s commandments. God’s commandments are not burdensome . . .

If we fight against loving our enemies we must remember that the more we practice interceding for those who harm us the more we find ourselves awaking to God’s Law of Love.

For whoever is begotten by God conquers the world . . .

We need not struggle against exterior forces of darkness; rather, we struggle with our own reluctance to trust God . . . even a reluctance which seems to be founded on logic and prudence.

And the victory that conquers the world is our faith . . .

We need not look to others to find happiness and even serenity; rather, we need look only to ourselves and our willingness to love God in everyone we meet . . . even those who wish us harm.

Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

When we believe that we can find no victory in this world . . . perhaps we might reconsider what kind of victory we seek . . . and if our victory finds it foundation in Christ himself.

Enter the word victory into the blog search bar and consider what victory looks like to those who trust God.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

two sparrowsMatthew 10:29-31

Every Hair

Jesus taught us, saying: Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than two sparrows”.

In this short citation of Jesus’ words, we learn all that we need to know about living life and about being watchful.

ONE: Nothing can be concealed from God. The Creator knows all that we think and do. The Creator understands our most secret motivations. Why do we try to hide anything we do or anything we think? Secrecy is futile in the kingdom.

Christ walks always with us, calling us forth in the name of the Creator. The Spirit remains in us, filling us with life eternal.

TWO: Nothing we do goes unnoted by God. The Creator marks both our pain and sorrow, our happiness and joy. Why do we persist in relying on our own small forces when we have the omnipotence and omniscience of the Creator buoying us up?  Reliance on self is meaningless in the kingdom.

Christ walks before and behind us, guiding and protecting in the name of the Creator. The Spirit hovers, abiding and consoling with love everlasting.

If God notes even the falling of a sparrow’s feather . . . how much can our anxiety and willfulness accomplish? How far will our stubbornness carry us in comparison with the power and strength of the Spirit?

If God numbers every hair on our heads . . . how much do we think we can hide what we do not like about ourselves?

How much will our separateness gain for us in comparison with the unity we have in God’s love? Secrecy and too much reliance on self will always be trumped by humility, generosity and love in the kingdom. Let us live as if we believe that God has numbered our every hair.

For another reflection on the value of two sparrows, click on the image above or visit March 24, 2007 post at: http://scripture-for-today.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html

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