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Posts Tagged ‘suffering and joy’


Sirach 40: Joys and Miseries of Life

Monday, June 4, 2018

This reflection is adapted from one written August 8, 2007, and it reminds us that we benefit from exploring the human life of Jesus as we navigate the highs and lows of life.

The book of Sirach contains wonderfully easy-to-understand capsules of true wisdom intermixed with Old Testament ideas that Jesus the Messiah asks us to put aside.  Jesus Ben Sirach must have lived a full life in order to write all that he set down for us; and this chapter is no exception.  We examine verses 17 through 27 where he directly compares ways to measure our true success. Gold and silver make one’s way secure but better than either, sound judgment . . . The flute and the harp make sweet music, but better than either a voice that is true.

This chapter is sandwiched between two images of heaven, just as life is sandwiched between the two great transitions in life – our birth and our death. It follows one that describes the heaven we imagine and is followed by one that contemplates death.  This structure reminds us that all of us suffer, and all of us gain. All of us wonder about our origin and end. All of us wonder how we will survive all that destroys us, and how we will celebrate the joys that raise us up. But through all of this, Sirach reminds us that for those who worship false gods, the suffering will be worse while our gain will be as nothing.

All that comes from bribes or injustice will be wiped out,
    but loyalty remains forever.

Like Jesus, Sirach reminds us that all we accumulate vanishes while all we enact may live forever.

Wealth from injustice is like a flooding wadi,
    like a mighty stream with lightning and thunder,
Which, in its rising, rolls along the stones,
    but suddenly, once and for all, comes to an end.

Like Jesus, Sirach reminds us that all we do in anger destroys us while all we do in love is eternal.

The offshoot of violence will not flourish,
    for the root of the godless is on sheer rock.

Like Jesus, Sirach reminds us that all we hope in Christ comes to fruition and all we enact in love will endure.

But goodness, like eternity, will never be cut off,
    and righteousness endures forever.

Like Jesus, Sirach reminds us that all we live in Christ abides with us in our sorrow, and celebrates with us in our joy.

Explore the highs and lows in Jesus’ life by clicking on the category Life of Jesus in Art on this blog.


To learn more about how to find balance in life, click on the dancing flower girl image in this post or visit: https://findyourmiddleground.com/2014/01/08/the-highs-and-lows-of-life/ 

 

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Fruits: Living in the Spirit

The Ninth Day of Christmas, January 2, 2018

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gives to me nine ladies dancing.

But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. (Galatians 5:22-23 GNT)

Are we able to think of others before ourselves? Are we willing to love our enemies into goodness? This is the love that Jesus describes.

Are we able to rejoice in our suffering? Do we praise God even in times of stress and turmoil? This is the joy that Jesus describes.

Do we rely on our relationship with God to guide us in all we do? Are we able to settle into the peace of this relationship despite the confusion the world promises? This is the peace that God brings us.

Are we willing to listen more than we speak? Do we wait for God to tell us which way we are to walk and what we are to say? This is the patience Jesus practices.

Do we offer our words gently when we speak truth that is difficult to hear? Are we able to act with compassion no matter the circumstances? This is the kindness that bears fruit in the Spirit.

Are we able to obey Jesus’ call to return good for evil? Are we open to seeing the good that comes out of harm when we allow Christ to lead us?  This is the goodness we see in the Spirit.

Are we willing to abide with those who live on the margins? Do we maintain a steady course without falling to temptation? This is the faithfulness Jesus models for us.

Can we put aside our desire to get ahead and to find comfort at all cost? Do we put our ego aside to allow others to share scare resources? This is the gentleness that flourishes in the Spirit.

Do we work toward consensus? Do we collaborate as we share in decision-making? It is the gentle invitation to others to join us in kingdom-building that exhibits the Spirit’s gift of self-control.

These nine fruits of the Spirit are difficult to practice but they are essential to life in the Spirit; and they are the mark of one who follows Christ. Today we reflect on the presence of these gifts in our daily thoughts and actions.

But what happens when we live God’s way? God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (MSG)

When we compare versions of these verses, we begin to see that the fruits of our life in the Spirit are essential to life as a follower of Christ.

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