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Posts Tagged ‘humility’


Proverbs 13: Walk With the Wise

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Book of Proverbs is a compilation of refrains that come to us over the centuries. We avoid their advice at our own peril; we integrate their lessons for our own good, and for the good of all.

Intelligent children listen to their parents;
    foolish children do their own thing.

Whether we see ourselves as wise or foolish, there is always something to learn from our elders; wisdom is, after all, the patience to listen for, and to respond positively to God’s Word.

Careful words make for a careful life;
    careless talk may ruin everything.

A good person hates false talk;
    a bad person wallows in gibberish.

We know that words matter. Harsh words create anxiety and deepen rifts while positive words enrich our lives and open us to transformation.

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life;
    a plain and simple life is a full life.

The lives of good people are brightly lit streets;
    the lives of the wicked are dark alleys.

Societies based on profit have difficulty understanding God’s goodness. Cultures with structures that care for the marginalized will give preference to the poor when making decisions. Do we live in dark alleys or on brightly lit streets?

 Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord,
    but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel.

Easy come, easy go,
    but steady diligence pays off.

We know that humility is the best foundation for a fruitful life. Openness to Jesus as The Word of God brings us the persistence, fortitude, and hope we will need to serve as disciples of Christ.

Ignore the Word and suffer;
    honor God’s commands and grow rich.

Sound thinking makes for gracious living,
    but liars walk a rough road.

Honesty in all our ways may be difficult but trustworthiness comes with great efforts. While we may temporarily deceive those from whom we hide, we know that ultimately the truth will always come forward.

Become wise by walking with the wise;
    hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

Scholars believe that the Book of Proverbs is a gathering of sayings brought together after the exile experience of the people of Israel. After huge loss and great difficulty, the faithful discover that both their actions and their words matter deeply. They also know that nothing and no one hides from the Creator. As New Testament people, we have as a model the actions of Jesus as he lives out The Word of God. As Easter people, we have the presence and consolation of the Spirit to buoy us up when we are lost or frightened. For all of these reasons, let us decide to walk with the wise rather than play with the foolish.

Today’s verses are taken from THE MESSAGE translation of the Bible. When we compare other translations of these words, we find that the difference between the wise and foolish is not that difficult to distinguish.

 

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Proverbs 3:1-12: Knowing It All

Friday, July 21, 2017

The writer of the opening Chapters of Proverbs treats us as a close associate.

Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you;
    take to heart my commands.
They’ll help you live a long, long time,
    a long life lived full and well.

We are warned to keep our feet on the ground and our hearts open.

Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
    Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
    in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.

A close relationship with God is paramount for one who wants to be eternally at peace.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    God’s the one who will keep you on track.

Humility is a trait we will want to nurture.

Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!

The rewards of a trusting relationship with God go beyond our spiritual health.

Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.

The rewards of practicing fidelity are greater and more powerful than we have imagined.

But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under God’s loving correction.
It’s the child God loves that God corrects;
    a parent’s delight is behind all this.

God’s loving presence in our lives may at times be difficult . . . but it will also be gratifying, enlightening, and transforming. When we consider these words, we recognize that in truth we have much to learn. No matter our status, power or wealth, we do not know all.

When we spend time with other translations of these verses, we gain understand the power of humility, fidelity and love.

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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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Judges 17: Reward in Due Season

Friday, June 23, 2017

We have just experienced the longest liturgical season of the year, Eastertide.  What will we do with the promise we have been given?  How have we examined ourselves during our Lenten desert passage, what do we do now that we have arrived at the empty tomb? How do we enact the promise of the resurrection?  Do we await the risen Christ who sits with us, dines with us, prays with us and heals us?  Do we take what we believe to be ours by force?  Or worse still, once we see that our apportioned lot has not yet arrived, will we take something from someone else as our determined recompense for what we see as an unjustified lack?  Do we allow our sense of entitlement to cause us to end our Easter joy a bit too soon?  Do we miss the risen Christ because we are busy elsewhere, making certain that “we get what is ours?”

Reward arrives in due season, when at its height to be savored best by those who wait on the Lord.  Humility and a right attitude about who we are in relation to God and to his creatures will discipline the willing heart.  The covenant is renewed.  We already have our reward, although we may not yet see it.  And so we pray for the wisdom to wait, the patience to discern, and the love to abide in Christ Jesus who walks and lives among us.  Rather than rush to the table to take our tribal place higher than what might be ours, let us await the beckoning of the king to seat us at our proper place for he is among us, and he loves us well.   We do best to wait on God’s will, rather than determine our own.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 16, 2009.

To explore different dimensions of humility, click on the image above, or visit: https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2014/11/04/what-are-different-dimensions-humility/

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Philippians 2:6-8: Re-Creation

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

[Jesus] always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. (GNT)

In this Lententide, we have meditated on the humility we might learn on our Emmaus journey; we ponder the outrageous hope we have in the Spirit. We have considered the phoenix rising from ashes as we have pledged to remain in God. We have admitted that we are children of God who rest in Christ; and we have determined to remain in the world while not being of it. We have reflected on the act of allowing ourselves to be de-created so that we might become new in Christ. Today, as we celebrate the wondrous miracle of new life that conquers death, we come to terms with our human yet divine nature.

Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. (NRSV)

Richard Rohr tells us, “All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain . . . If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become cynical, negative, or bitter . . . If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it – usually to those closest around us: our family, our neighbors, our work partners, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children”. (Rohr 119)

Jesus shows us how we might allow our suffering to save ourselves and others.

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (MSG)

On this great day we might celebrate the breaking of chains of death that none thought breakable. When we witness Christ in his interactions with those who were crucified with him, and later the women and men who discovered the empty tomb, we do not see Christ puffed up in glory. Rather, we find a humble and loving shepherd who leaves an entire flock in order to rescue a single sheep.

On this great day we celebrate the invitation to re-create ourselves in Christ. We give thanks for the invitation to redemption in Christ. And we rejoice in the promise of hope the Spirit offers us. Let us accept these caring gifts with humility, fidelity and love.

The feast of Easter is an eight-day celebration, so this week we will consider how and where we might show our gratitude to God for these gifts of eternal salvation.

Richard Rohr, OFM. The Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.  

To spend more time with these verses, use the scripture link to read varying translations of these words, and to open our hearts to these remarkable gifts of faith, hope and love.

 

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Romans 12:2-16: Into the World

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.

Today Paul gives us specific guidelines for how to live the Beatitudes, what we are to do with our concerns, how we are to handle our negative emotions, and where we might take our worries and fears. Our God-given identity calls us to reflect Christ in the world; but how are we to do this? Paul reminds us of God’s gracious gift of faith . . . and how we might carry it into a world that will likely be surprised by this message.

And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. 

Paul reminds us that humility and love serve us much more than revenge.

Love must be completely sincere. Hold on to what is good.

God turns all harm to goodness. We have proof of this and we can rely on this.

Love one another warmly, and be eager to show respect for one another.

Paul addresses Christians, but we might extend this openness and respect to all.

Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.

Fidelity and responsibility. Prudence and authenticity. These are our hallmarks of behavior.

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.

Hope and patience. Prayer and petition. These are foundations on which we stand.

Share your belongings with your needy fellows, and open your homes to strangers.

Community versus individuality. The common good versus the singular gain. These are values we must weigh.

Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse.

This is perhaps the most difficult of all Jesus’ messages. Loving those who harm us is a challenge we want to ignore; but with Christ as our guide and refuge, we cannot lose.

Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.

Our brother Jesus celebrates and mourns. We are invited to do the same.

Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise.

We are reminded that human wisdom cannot reach the heights of God’s wisdom. We remember that God does not abandon or betray us. We have before us a clear guideline for living as Jesus does, for living as we all might, for living as a builder in God’s kingdom. Today we have a striking description of our own God-given identity. Let us go into the world as if we believe.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare varying versions of these words, we discover the blessings and gifts of God.

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Psalm 118: God Saves Those in Distress

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Favorite from March 13, 2008.

We can never hear this too often, especially during the Lenten tide.  If you have the opportunity, make a space of time to pray this psalm today.  It will fill your empty spaces to overflowing. It will make sense of all hardship. It will remind us that life is good, that God is mercy, that God and we are one.

Whoever is wise will ponder these things, will ponder the merciful deeds of the Lord.

We wander the path of this life yearning for something that will move us, stir us, create a fire within us; yet not consume us. We can so often lose our way in this search for the fire that does not consume.

Some had lost their way in a barren desert . . .

We have wandered so far, looking for constancy, fidelity, healing. Our lives feel so like a desert. We hunger. We thirst. We feel as though we have lost ourselves, as though something is missing.

They were hungry and thirsty; their life was ebbing away . . .

We have longed for peace, for happiness, for calm, for serenity. Our lives can feel so useless when the search seems futile.

Some lived in darkness and gloom . . .

We hold so many secrets, think of our sins as private errors, separate ourselves from all that is holy. Our lives need compassion rather than anger and despair, love rather than indifference.

In their distress they cried to the Lord . . . who saved them in their peril . . .

We think that we can handle things so much better than you, God because we are here and so often we feel as though you are so distant . . . yet we are not alone. You are always with us. You save us in our distress. You humble us with hardship. You call us to turn and return to you.

Let them thank the Lord for such kindness, such wondrous deeds for mere mortals.  Let them offer a sacrifice in thanks, declare his works with shouts of joy.

When we pause to breathe, when we still the frenzy. We feel you with us. We feel that fire that does not consume. We see the miracles you bring forth through us. We believe that you are mercy. We see the wonder of all you have created. We know that there is no greater God than you.

Whoever is wise will ponder these things, will ponder the merciful deeds of the Lord.

Amen.

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Sirach 2:1-6: Serving the Lord

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

We are small children, eager to please our doting parent. We put our trust in the Lord and expect that our lives will run smoothly. Struggles will be brief and bearable, we say to ourselves. This is easy if I am in God’s corner and God is in mine.

Jesus ben Sirach has words for us: My child, if you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test.

We are ready, we tell ourselves. We are eager to follow.

Be sincere and determined.

We will persevere. We will remain faithful.

Keep calm when trouble comes.

We will live in hope, actively waiting for God’s promise.

Stay with the Lord; never abandon God, and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. 

We wonder if God really understands our circumstances.

Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient.

We wonder if we will endure even with the assurance of God’s love.

Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation.

We struggle to live meekly as Jesus lives. We yearn for the justice we know God wants. We live in the hope that the Spirit will not abandon or deceive us.

Trust the Lord, and God will help you. Walk straight in God’s ways, and put your hope in God.

We continue to live in The Way Christ shows us. In patience and humility, in fidelity and hope, persevering and waiting in love.

 

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1 Samuel 25: The Inverted Kingdom – Part VII

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder: The Meeting of David and Abigail

Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder: The Meeting of David and Abigail

Yesterday we spent time with David, Saul, Nabal and Abigail. Today we examine the life of Jesus and how or if it influences our own inverted lives.

Jesus comes to tell us that when we lose, we win, and when we win, we lose.  St. Paul reminds us that when we are weak, we are strong and when we are strong, we are weak.  Intellectually we might come to understand that when we die we live and we live we die, but it takes spiritual fortitude to live a life of inversion.  If we can stand back, let God operate, listen for God’s voice, we are able to cooperate with God.  As we pray, wait and communicate with God . . . we achieve God’s purpose in us.

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

We can take a lesson from Nabal, Abigail, David and Saul.  We see different courses of action open to us in the lives of these four people.  And if we are honest, we can see that we have the same options. We can choose to reject God for the sake of self, or to abandon self in order to do God’s will.  As we see today, each of us is free to opt in or out of God’s plan.

So this is all that God asks of us: to act only in God’s interest rather than our own, to do only God’s justice rather than take revenge or hold grudges, to bring hope to the hopeless rather than succumb to despair, and to love as God loves . . . with compassion in place of leniency, with mercy and understanding instead of possessive control and manipulation.

So what does God’s inverted kingdom offer and how do these stories show us God’s hope in us? God wants only our best, our purest, our humblest selves. God wants only to share hope with us. And God wants us to be completely free to choose this marvelous plan of inversion and love.

 

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