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Posts Tagged ‘understanding’


Saturday, August 1, 2020

questions%20-%20fotolia_38274417%20-%20web_417x313[1]Jeremiah 12:1-2

Why?

You would be in the right, O Lord, if I should dispute with you; even so, I must discuss the case with you.  Why does the way of the godless prosper, why live all the treacherous in contentment?  You planted them; they have taken root, they keep on growing and bearing fruit.  You are upon their lips, but far from their inmost thoughts.

Like most of God’s prophets, Jeremiah asks the Lord direct questions.  He brings his confusion, heartache and pain to the Creator who knows and sees all.  Like Jeremiah, we must bring all of our big and petty woes to God. For with God is the answer we seek.

God says: I am not bothered by the billions of questions that fly to me each day and night. I am not angered.  I am not threatened. There is nothing you can ask that will turn me away from you. So ask. How else will you find peace? I will always answer . . . even though you may not be prepared to hear the reply. Even then I will guide you to understanding. All you need do is remain open and ready for dialog. I long to listen and speak to you. Be not afraid to ask the questions that are in your heart. Persist and be open, and we will speak with one another.

“How is it that evil prospers?”  “Why do the wicked enjoy life while the faithful suffer?”  “When will God’s justice divide the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff?”  “Where is God when so much envy and hate destroy all that is good?”  “What is the point of seeing the weeds pollute the harvest?”

These are questions the faithful feel rise from within when they see injustice in the world.  These are the questions the faithful must bring to God . . . for with God lie the consolation and the replies.


Tomorrow, Job, another faithful servant, hears The Lord’s Speech . . .

Image from: https://www.123rf.com/photo_11983584_magnifying-glass-with-questions-words-on-white-background.html

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Monday, June 22, 2020

menora-tekes-mica-2[1]Psalm 49

In Evil Days

This Psalm is full of advice about how we are to calm our fears, unburden our hearts and unbend our stiff necks.  It is a practical list of specific strategies for a universal audience . . . rich and poor alike!

My lips will speak words of wisdom.  My heart is full of insight.  How does the psalmist arrive at such understanding and perception?

I will turn my mind to a parable . . . Story telling is a popular pastime in a culture in which most of the population is uneducated and beyond their entertainment value, parables are used to instruct the illiterate using the technique of comparison to teach.  As we read, hear or form parables of our own the burden of our worries lifts.

With a harp I will solve my problems . . . Music soothes the soul, as we know, and the ancient Hebrew people understood this. The harp and flute were used in ancient cultures to both entertain and to quiet the soul.  Saul calls for David and his harp when he is troubled (1 Samuel 16:23).  There are at more than a dozen references to praising God with the harp in Scripture and here the psalmist calls for the use of its comforting tones.  As we sing to God and praise God’s wisdom and power and goodness the problems that besieged us begin to dissolve.

Why should I fear in evil days the malice of the foes who surround me, men who trust their wealth and boast of the vastness of their riches . . . Finally the psalmist tackles problems common to all humanity from the earliest stories in our culture to the present day: envy, greed, pride, an attitude of self-sufficiency, a desire to control.  As we come to realize that no one – not even the super-rich – can avoid the great equalizer, death, we find new energy and rise to new life.

But God will ransom me from the netherworld; he will take me to himself . . .  The Old Testament psalmist foretells the coming of Christ with his story of healing, restoration and resurrection.  The psalmist assures us that as we come to fully understand that God alone creates and God alone saves, nothing that takes place in evil days will be able to strip the promise of life eternal from us.

And so we pray . . .

Eternal and powerful God, open our hearts to receive your wisdom as we sing your praise with harp and flute.

Loving and healing Christ, open our minds to your parables that teach us how to flourish as we grow and blossom with your wisdom and insight.

Abiding and consoling Spirit, open our souls to your loving presence as we learn to abide only in you.

Amen.


To sooth the soul that struggles to survive evil days, watch a video produced for the King David Museum about how Harrari harps are made in the manner that David himself employed, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO5uA-IPV0E

For lessons about the harp and the flute by musicologist Rabbi David Louis and the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel, watch the following videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4O301lbkiU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=gcTGsmnjwv8&NR=1 

Listen carefully to the story of Moses’ Flute and consider how we might uncomplicated our lives. 

To read about how ancient harps are made today, click on the image above or go to: http://harrariharps.com/

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Proverbs 7: Infidelity

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

In the past, we spent time reflecting on the first nine chapters of Proverbs.  Today we focus on Chapter 7 – a warning against listening to false wisdom – a warning against adultery.

I now understand that infidelity is not a single turning away.  Much like the codependent relationship of an addict and his or her enabler, the one who strays must have his or her passive aggressor, someone who – with silence and deception – encourages the leaving.  Although there are many roads to infidelity, the result is always the same – as quickly as it is born, it leaves shattered lives in its wake.

When we think of infidelity, we most often think of a fractured marriage, and that is the image evoked in today’s citation – “Come let us drink our fill of love, until morning, let us feast on love!  For my husband is not at home, he has gone on a long journey; a bag of money he took with him, not till the full moon will he return home.”  But infidelity may happen in any intimate relationship – between friends, between family members, between coworkers, between our God and our selves.  We are all susceptible to the siren call of control, self-importance, manipulation of discourse, narcissistic self-fulfillment, love of discord.  And some of us feel the ancient pull to submit, go along, deny, and maintain quiet at all costs.  This however, is not a peaceful life.  On the contrary, it is a life filled with risk, thrill-seeking, and even voyeurism.  “What if” takes the place of “This I believe”.  “If only” leaps forward to stand before “This is how it is”.  Insincerity and self-deception always precede infidelity.  Integrity and authenticity never accompany betrayal.

For many are those she has struck down dead, numerous, those she has slain.  Her house is made up of ways to the nether world, leading down into the chambers of death.

All of us – although striving to be open and loyal communicators ourselves – have an intimate knowledge of infidelity that at times has left us stunned and uncomprehending.  That is because there is nothing comprehensible about infidelity.  That is because infidelity is about indifference.  And indifference is the opponent of love.

Love acts.  Love questions.  Love perseveres.  Love does not take pleasure in anyone’s woe.  Love actively abides.  We know Paul’s description of Love from 1 Corinthians 13.  It is patient, it is kind.  Love waits upon Wisdom – the perfect – and only – antidote to betrayal.  Wisdom converts to eventual joy the stunned silence and the blurred vision of the one who suffers at the hands of the betrayer.  Wisdom and her attendant companion Understanding bring a healing balm to counteract the sting which will otherwise embitter the betrayed.

[So] my son, keep my words, and treasure my commands.  Keep my commands and live, my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Say to Wisdom, “You are my sister!”  Call Understanding, “Friend!”

This is the mystery of God’s love for us.  Not that he created us in his image.  Not that he loves us; but that, despite our constant turning away from and turning to him, he remains a faithful, ardent lover – always calling, always wooing.  Calling to life.  Calling to true and lasting joy.


First written on August 30, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/02/12-ways-to-mend-a-broken-heart.html

To read “12 Ways to Mend a Broken Heart,” click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/02/12-ways-to-mend-a-broken-heart.html

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Job 28: The Hope of God’s Wisdom

Monday, August 20, 2018

God says: You have asked me this question many times and I delight in your curiosity. It gladdens my heart when I hear you ask for clarity. I praise you for your persistence, courage, and desire for authenticity. Hear now the voice of my servant Job.

Job says: But where, oh where, will [mortals] find Wisdom?
    Where does Insight hide?
Mortals don’t have a clue,
    haven’t the slightest idea where to look.

God says: Job knows that the search for wisdom tempts some to lose hope, others to argue over meaning, and still others to divide the faithful. When your search finds you creating sides and assigning blame, think about the origin of your emotions. Do they come from fear or from compassion? A willfulness to control or a willingness to collaborate?

Job says: So where does Wisdom come from?
    And where does Insight live?
It can’t be found by looking, no matter
    how deep you dig, no matter how high you fly.
If you search through the graveyard and question the dead,
    they say, ‘We’ve only heard rumors of it.

God says: Listen to the words of Job. He suffered great physical pain yet remained in me. His friends and family offered well-meaning advice based on confusion, still he relied on me. Job’s search for understanding and wisdom bring him directly to me.

Job says: God alone knows the way to Wisdom,
    God knows the exact place to find it.

God asks: Are you willing to listen to the knowledge Job gains about the path to wisdom?

Job says: Here it is!
    Fear-of-the-Lord—that’s Wisdom,
    and Insight means shunning evil.

God says: Come to me when burdens weigh you down. Rely on me when anger and anxiety take hold of you. Remain in me when revenge and fear push and pull you in the way of foolishness. Always rely on me.

Job’s search is long and arduous. The wisdom he finds is precious and pure. The lesson he teaches us may be difficult to take in, but it is reliable, full, and positive. Let us step into the hope of God’s wisdom today.


Tomorrow, thirsting for wisdom. 

Image from: https://chartcons.com/100-deep-philosophical-questions-may-just-never-answer/ 

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Proverbs 2:1-5: My Child

Monday, August 13, 2018

I have always liked the simple wisdom of Proverbs for Lady Wisdom has much to teach us.

My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you to do. Listen to what is wise and try to understand it. Yes, beg for knowledge; plead for insight. Look for it as hard as you would for silver or some hidden treasure. If you do, you will know what it means to fear the Lord and you will succeed in learning about God. (GNT)

As a child, I never understood why we were to fear God. As I grew, I came to recognize fear as a sense of awe. As an adult, the verses of Proverbs bring God’s overwhelming love to our hearts.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. (MSG)

Friends offer words of advice, Wisdom found close to home and near to the heart. I take in the wisdom my own friends offer. And as a friend to others, I search for counsel in this practical, and often humorous, book of instruction.

My son, if you will receive my words
and store my commands inside you,
paying attention to wisdom
inclining your mind toward understanding —
yes, if you will call for insight
and raise your voice for discernment,
if you seek it as you would silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure —
then you will understand the fear of Adonai
and find knowledge of God. (CJB)

Ancient words are frequently apt, gathering past and future into a fruitful present when we share them with our children. Old axioms bring pearls of wisdom, offering respite in the storm, refuge in combat.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. (MSG)

Wisdom, Understanding, Insight. These are the gems we unearth when we spend time with these sayings. Searching, prospecting, seeking. These are the actions we take as children of God. Counsels, gold, gems. These are the treasures we unearth when we answer the call of Christ. Beseeching, learning, healing. This is the transformation we experience when we rest in the Spirit of the Lord.

My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you . . .


When we compare translations of these verses, we find safety in the Lord’s awesome love. We find refuge as children of God.

Image from: http://www.heartandsoulcompany.com/ 

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2 Maccabees 15: Battle – Part III

Peter Paul Rubens and workshop: The Triumph of Judas Macccabee

Peter paul Rubens, “The Triumph of Judas Maccabee” Museum of Fine Arts in Nantes

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

The arms we carry into battle need only be Christ.  When we see the oncoming storm of conflict, we only need put on the armor of God. When we enter into the battle that threatens to erase the values we hold as true, we turn to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

We are to be prisoners for the Lord and live in a manner worthy of the call we have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one body, and one Spirit, as we were also called to the one hope of our call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:1-6)

This, then, is how we move forward as a witness in Christ. This, then, is how we act in the Spirit. With understanding, humility, patience, and a deep-seated wish for unity.

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

The only battle worth entering, is one we enter with God not as a righteous banner, but with Christ as a loving guide, the Spirit as a healing force. When we exercise our full understanding and our full force of love, we will have entered the battle enjoined by God.

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

The only war worth waging, the only love worth winning, the only peace worth gaining, is the battle we enter with, and in, and for our loving God.

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 28, 2009.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Maccabeus#/media/File:Peter_Paul_Rubens_and_workshop_002.jpg 

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Gifts . . . freely given

Jean Restout: The Paraclete

The Seventh Day of Christmas, December 31, 2017

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming.  

Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of God. These seven gifts freely given by the Spirit reside with us – whether we know it or not, and whether we believe it or not. When we least expect it, the Spirit rises to provide us with the tools we need for the circumstances we experience.

Wisdom comes to us with patience and with waiting on the LORD. When we reflect on the persons who hold wisdom, we realize that they listen more than they speak, praise more than they berate, and love more than they disparage. These gifted ones share their wisdom with us, and we do well to share God’s wisdom with others.

Understanding is more than comprehending, more than accepting, and more than believing. Understanding pierces darkness, brings lights, nurtures love in others and enacts love in all. When we practice understanding, we receive more than we expect, and more than we can hold. Understanding grows wherever it resides.

Counsel allows each of us to respond to God’s call no matter how challenging, no matter how awkward, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel. Counsel converts fear into courage. Counsel transforms hatred into love. Those who are open to God’s counsel are better able to see The Way of Christ and to follow.

Fortitude brings us the strength to do what needs to be done when few others will do it. Fortitude brings us the resolution to endure suffering, and to allow God’s hand to convert our suffering into joy. When we allow God’s fortitude to support us in difficult times, we remember Psalm 126: they go out weeping and return rejoicing.

Knowledge of the LORD brings us the foundation on which to stand as we enact the work God calls us to do in this world that struggles to be Kingdom here and now. This gift, perhaps more than any other, allows us to speak and act with authority as Jesus does. Knowledge instructs our decisions, lives in our words, and guides our actions. Knowledge informs our sense of justice and mercy, brings order out of confusion, and love out of hate.

Piety is not a saccharine, duty-bound quality of sweetness; rather, it is love bolstered by God’s power, fidelity strengthened by God’s steadfastness, and hope empowered by God’s promise. Piety is faithful because it makes the choice to persist in God’s love and to believe in God’s covenant. Piety does more than just show up. Piety acts with compassion and patience; and piety is unshakable.

Fear of God is not the experience of anxiety or alarm; it is instead love of God for God’s sake. It demonstrates respect, seeks to worship, and shares joy in the experience of God. One who fears the LORD, stands in awe of God’s goodness and is eager to share the Good News of our rescue from pain and worry.

These seven gifts are more than words. They are tangible forces in our lives. They are stones with which we lay the foundation for our relationship with God. Those who would be wise, are also understanding. Those who give counsel also provide fortitude. Those with knowledge and piety live in awe of God who loves us into creation, and who abides with us even beyond the end of time. On this eve of a new year, we do well to open ourselves to these gifts freely given.

Isaiah 11 describes the Spirit’s gifts as does Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 12.

To learn more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, visit: http://catholicstraightanswers.com/gifts-holy-spirit/

 

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Proverbs 14: Lady Wisdom and Sir Fool 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Melanie Rogers: Portrait of Lady Wisdom

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before during Lent to see if we might use these axioms to help us examine our lives. Today we reprise this thinking.

The title of this chapter in THE MESSAGE translation is, “The Road that leads to Hell,” and it begins with these verses.

Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home;
    Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick.

Just when we believe we have found sure footing, Sir Fool comes along to tempt us out of our commitment to living in Christ. The writers reference frivolous talk, derisive smiles, false witnessing, cynicism, and ridicule.

There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
    look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
    but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.

As a counterweight to destructive behavior, an opposing way of living presents itself. Positive advice open-mindedness, true witness, honesty, a strong ox for the plow, and holy living. And amid all these axioms we find this nugget.

The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
    will be an outsider at their celebrations.

The advice to abide with those who suffer is a harbinger to the words and actions Jesus offers as he preaches and lives out the Beatitudes.

John Watson Nicol: The Court Jester

In verses 14-35, we again hear the recommendation to sift and weigh every word. We do well to remember that meanness, keeping the company of fools, putting prudence aside, making decisions with hot heads and cold hearts, ignoring the needy, subscribing to conspiracy, and exploiting the powerless are all actions that bring our own demise. And again, this negative way of living is balanced against the positive. A final reminder calls us to think about what we are doing, and to act with understanding, integrity, honesty, and holiness.

Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart—
    fools never even get to say hello.

Today we have the opportunity to reflect again on what we do and why we do it. Do we wish to greet and abide with Lady Wisdom or Sir Fool?

Find the Beatitudes at Matthew 5:1-12, and enter the word into the blog search bar for reflections on this Law of Love. 

When we compare other translations of these verses, we explore the difference between Lady Wisdom and Sir Fool. To visit another Noontimes post on this chapter, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/03/13/proverbs-14-axioms-for-living/

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1 Peter 4:1-11: A Prayer for Mutual Charity

Monday, May 8, 2017

St_Peter_Besenzi

Paolo Emilio Besenzi: Saint Peter

Peter exhorts the early Christians to regard their persecution as a blessing, and today’s Noontime reading describes how those in community bear with one another, how they celebrate their diverse gifts, and how they are to stand on God’s authority rather than their own.  Peter calls his flock to mutual understanding, forbearance, purity and love.  And he also calls us today.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, we say that we are willing to serve your purposes, the purposes for which you have designed us.  Help us to keep faith with your hope in us.  We know that we are wonderfully made, and that you have plans for us . . . plans for our joy and not our woe.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, we know that our fellow travelers are also wonderfully made.  We also know that when we walk together, you call on us to bring forth the best in one another.  Help us to be open to our fellow pilgrims as we journey toward you.  Help us to remember that in the life of the Spirit there is always an opportunity for a new beginning.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, bless us, hear our petitions, heal us, bind us together in you.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on July 31, 2007.

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