Posts Tagged ‘practical advice’

Sirach 7: Public and Private Life

Friday, March 29, 2019

Several days ago we reflected on the meaning of our public image in the Book of Daniel; today with Sirach we might spend time with how this compares to our private life.  The Irish culture holds an image of a man who is a street angel but a house devil . . . pleasant and amiable – even lovable – to his neighbors . . . while beating his wife and children behind closed doors.  How many of us harbor devils inside that we do not show to the world?  How do these devils slip into our lives without our knowing?

We are advised by Jesus ben Sirach to bring our public and private lives into line with our covenant promise with Yahweh.

In this book of wisdom, we are cautioned that we must be humble in our dealings with one another; we ought not seek out the high places at the table.  We are warned to refrain from seeking work as a judge unless we have the strength to root out crime; otherwise we succumb to corruption and mar our integrity.  We ought not flaunt our wisdom, our power, our wealth, our specialness in any way . . . for our pride will be our undoing.  This is how humility arrives.

We are also advised to steer clear of situations the catechism refers to as near occasions of sin: those times when we ourselves do not sin but come dangerously close to slipping over the precipice into evil.  Standing by wordless as we watch malevolence occur without offering witness to injustice is not the way of the Lord. When we lack courage, we only need to look to God for strength.  This is how fortitude arrives.

We ought to pray in earnest and not hurry through prayer as this leaves room for a false sense of independence from God.  We humble ourselves appropriately when we come before the Lord and so we ought to enter into prayerfulness with deliberation and patience so that we might all the better hear the word of God.  This is how wisdom arrives.

In private and in our family life, we need to continue to live with thoughtfulness, with intention.  Treating servants well – or the people we meet in the mall, in the supermarket, in the gas station – leads us to treating all well.  Honoring elders, respecting the living, remembering the dead.  This is how piety arrives.

Refrain from bartering for friends.  Mourn with those who mourn.  Steer clear of those who do not.  Visit the sick.  This is how compassion arrives.

When we eliminate fear and pain from our lives by blocking them out and riding over these powerful emotions, we also eliminate important opportunities for learning the ways of God.  We erase the opportunities for God to guide and protect us.  When we petition God and thank him for his bounty, we indicate our understanding that we are his creatures.  This is how faith arrives.

When we balance our inner self with our outer self, we clear away the dark corners where house devils might lurk.  Integrity finds a comfortable dwelling place within . . . and chases away these devils to make room for angels.  This is how hope arrives.

When we bring into focus our whole mind, our whole heart, our whole body and our whole soul to celebrate our union with God, we enter into his divinity.  This is why the words of Jesus ben Sirach are so important to us today.  With all your strength, love your Creator . . . for this is how love arrives.

A re-post from March 29, 2012.

Image from: http://sandeshavahini.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-heart-in-the-bible/

To review the Noontime reflection on Public Life go to: https://thenoontimes.wordpress.com/2012/3/23/

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Proverbs 20: Deep Water

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Quick-tempered leaders, blabbermouths and gossips, rebels and dolts. These are our neighbors and friends, and perhaps even ourselves, who are featured in today’s lesson from Proverbs.

Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
    a wise person draws from the well within. (MSG)

Rigging scales in the marketplace, cursing the light, seeking revenge, boasting of bargains, padding expense accounts, switching price tags. These actions are part of today’s advice from Proverbs.

A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out. (GNT)

A farmer too lazy to plow, people making impulsive vows, fools picking fights. How do we handle the awkward people and circumstances we encounter each day? How do we guard against falling into these activities that clearly are not part of kingdom building.

The heart’s real intentions are like deep water;
    but a person with discernment draws them out. (CJB)

Today we find more practical advice about how to navigate the deep waters that ebb and swirl in our lives. Today we have a chance to discover the warning signs of  deep currents.

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Proverbs 19: Listening

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What happens if we decide that God does not exist and we stop listening for the voice within that longs to serve and love us? The writers of Proverbs have anticipated that question, and they provide insight today.

Verses describing the poor and powerless versus the wealthy and influential ring as true today as they did when they were written. Practical advice about how to manager the differences between classes mixes with words to parents and others. Then the writer make a simple, clear suggestion about how to proceed.

Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor;
    keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.

A wise heart and a clear head . . .

We remember that God’s Wisdom comes with active listening and patience. We also know that struggling against evil and hoping to win is often more than we can endure. Our energy flames out like the sparks that rise from a bonfire. The writers advise us in verse 19.

Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger;
    if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.

So what then, do we do when confronted with evil and riddled with anxiety?

Once we pause to realize that we cannot combat the darkness on our own, we finally decide to relax into Christ’s open and willing arms. Once we recognize that the Spirit has more power than we do on our own, we are able to listen again for the voice that both guides and protects. Once we surrender to the Creator’s persistent hope and love, we decide that listening is the first step in open communication.

Toward the end of this Chapter, we find this bit of golden advice.

If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own,
    you’ll soon be out of your depth.

Once we determine to listen patiently and carefully, we find the calm in the storm that we have been so ardently seeking.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we find the strength and wisdom to listen once again.

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Proverbs 18: Fool or Friend 

William Merritt Chase: The Court Jester

Monday, August 14, 2017

As we resume our journey through the Book of Proverbs, we continue to find strength in the practical advice that sits just under our noses.

Loners who care only for themselves
    spit on the common good.

We know that together we find strength while alone we languish.

When wickedness arrives, shame’s not far behind;
    contempt for life is contemptible.

Truth always makes herself visible, no matter the circumstances.

The words of a fool start fights;
    do him a favor and gag him.

There is no point in mincing words. Fools reveal themselves.

Pride first, then the crash,
    but humility is precursor to honor.

We know that humility is the hallmark of one who lives the Gospel.

Wise men and women are always learning,
    always listening for fresh insights.

Knowledge brings understanding, and understanding can lead to love for our enemies.

Do a favor and win a friend forever;
    nothing can untie that bond.

Friends can bolster us when we are down; they encourage us when our strength ebbs.

Friends come and friends go,
    but a true friend sticks by you like family.

When we compare these verses from THE MESSAGE translation with other versions, we have the tools we need to discern whether those who surround us are fools or friends.


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Proverbs 11: Losing and Finding Our Way

Monday, July 31, 2017

We often stumble when our circumstances are positive; lack of stress or worry tempt us to believe that life holds no traps or obstacles. Yet despite the positive environment, we might easily lose our way.

God hates cheating in the marketplace;
    he loves it when business is aboveboard.

When our comfort zone shrinks, we look for assurance and predictability. It is all too easy to run toward the familiar as we look for advice and consolation. Yet despite our care and attention to detail, we still might easily lose our way.

The stuck-up fall flat on their faces,
    but down-to-earth people stand firm.

In all circumstances, in all days and at all times, it is important to maintain open and honest communication with our creator. The writers of Proverbs prepare us for both easy and difficult days, for both tranquil and troubling nights.

The integrity of the honest keeps them on track;
    the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin.

The verses in this post are from THE MESSAGE translation of Proverbs. When we compare this translation with others, the practical advice of Proverbs shows us how we might prevent the dangers that arise when we lose our way.

A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart,
    but a principled life can stand up to the worst.

When we spend time with this advice, we discover that we are never alone, and we will never truly lose our way.

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Hebrews 13: Pleasing God

Tuesday, April 12, 2016Angels-Artwork-Christmas

The writer of this letter has so much common-sense advice for us.

Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!  (verses 1-2)

The writer of this letter has so much good news for us.

Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. (verse 5)

The writer of this letter has solid cautions for us.

Don’t be lured away from Jesus by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them. (verse 9)

The writer of this letter has practical advice for us.

Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. (verse 16)

The writer of this letter opens up God’s vision for us.

Friends, please take what I’ve written most seriously. I’ve kept this as brief as possible; I haven’t piled on a lot of extras. (verse 22)

The writer of this letter reminds us of all that is important.

shlach_lecha_640x360Grace be with you, every one. (Verse 25)

The writer of this letter deserves a bit of our time today as he tells us how easy it is to please our loving God. When we use the scripture link to compare different translations of these words, we draw closer to God, and we invite waiting angels into our hearts and homes.

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