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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


Thursday, October 22, 2020

new-heart[1]Psalm 32:11

Upright Hearts

Rejoice in Yahweh, exult, you virtuous, shout for joy, all upright hearts.

In Jewish tradition, the heart is the center of human spirit, thought and emotion.  It is the heart that gives rise to action. (PSALMS 31)

God says: When you live in me you will find yourself rejoicing no matter your circumstances for you will understand that I turn all harm to good, you will comprehend that the faithful need not fight because I fight for them, and you will know that I guide and protect you always. If you live in a world of denial, deceit and betrayal you will find it difficult to trust your loved ones. You will feel most comfortable inhabiting a world of forces that control and are controlled. You will seek others who prefer a lie to truth. The upright heart cannot bear the darkness. The honest heart seeks light and truth and good. Come to me, all you who shout continually for joy just knowing that I am with you. Come to me this day, no matter your circumstance. For we have much to do. We have much to celebrate.

For a week of days we have explored Psalm 32; we have scanned its verses and parsed its words as we look for the deeper meaning that remains with us once we close the pages of the Bible. We have allowed the Word to seep into our sinews, to strengthen our bones, and to bring new life to a tired spirit. Let us return to the first verse, and read again these treasured words of instruction that bring us remission, grace and wisdom. Let us take in these words that renew the spirit, and then let us rise in action.

Happy the one whose fault is forgiven . . .


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 31. Print.

Image from: http://www.pbwu.org/w/p/daily-encouraging-word-a-new-heart-and-a-new-spirit/

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Monday, October 19, 2020

6-6-hearing-web-gfx[1]Psalm 32:8

Hearing Instruction

I will instruct you, and teach you the way to go; I will watch over you and be your adviser.

We so often ask advice, and then we ignore it. We frequently seek counsel and wisdom, and argue against it. We regularly say that we seek wisdom and later reject it. We humans are independent creatures, created by love, for love and out of love and yet we go through our lives lamenting love lost, unrequited love, love betrayed and love abandoned. Let us reflect today on hearing instruction.

God says: I know that I repeat myself constantly but I do not mind.  I answer your repeated questions; I reassure troubled souls; I affirm nervous hearts and calm distressed minds. I see the pain and sorrow that you suffer and so I assure you that I will never abandon you; I repeat this reassurance as often as I must until my words sink into your consciousness. I repeat what I have told you many times: Love me, love yourselves, love one another. Hear my instruction and follow my voice.

Through Isaiah (30:19-21), God reminds us that when we are confused or troubled and know not which way to go, God always speaks so that . . . Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left”. If we might settle ourselves even the smallest bit, we will begin to hear words of comfort and wisdom.

Enter the word voice into a Bible Concordance and see how often God speaks to us through scripture from the first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation.


Image from: http://fox17online.com/2013/06/06/mayor-taking-hearing-test-to-promote-awareness/#axzz2hpgiiX00

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Friday, September 18, 2020

scribe2[1]

Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?

1 Corinthians 1:20-25

Wisdom, Signs and Debates

As we read these words of Saint Paul we might think we are listening to political commentary on recent world and local events. Crisis brings out the worst and the best in us. Questions are asked but the answers are often not heard. Let us put a little time aside today to listen for God’s wisdom, to see God’s signs and to allow God to bring all debate into union with The Word.

Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?

We cling to political views without considering how or even if they reflect the Gospel.

Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?

We wage wars and neglect the poor without seeing the chaos that these actions add to an already fractured world.

The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

We continue to rely on our own small powers more than God’s limitless ones without hearing these words in the context of today’s world.

And so we pray . . .

Patient and loving God, send us your wisdom and teach us how to replace our own human folly with your Word. 

Good and forgiving God, continue to bless us with your many signs and open our eyes and ears and hearts to your voice and your touch.

Mighty and all-encompassing God, support us as we search blindly for you; protect us as we struggle to follow you, and guide us as we stumble beside you.

We ask this through your son Jesus the Christ together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


To better understand the value of scribes in the biblical world, visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/scribes

Image from: http://harmonhistory.com/apwh.html

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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Proverbs 4 proverbs-4-18-550x320[1]

The Supreme Guide

We have spent time over the last two weeks reflecting on how one might rely on Wisdom when confronted with the conflict between good and evil, the shadowy line between willingness and willfulness. Today we are given a manual with which to navigate the difficulties of life. This manual describes Wisdom, the Supreme Guide.

On the way of wisdom I direct you, I lead you on straightforward paths.

Hold fast to instruction, never let her go; keep her, for she is your life.

With closest custody, guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life.

Put away from you dishonest talk, deceitful speech put far from you.

Let your eyes look straight ahead and your glance be directly forward.

Survey the path at your feet, and let all your ways be sure.

Turn neither to the right nor to left, keep your foot from evil.

When we find ourselves hiding information from others, when we dart sideways glances at one another, when we enter into relationships by holding ourselves away from any true commitment, when God is at the end of the list of friends whose advice we seek, we can turn again to this manual for living. We can take these verses into our hearts.

To my words, be attentive, to my sayings incline your ear; let them not slip out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them, to one’s whole being they are health. 


Adapted from a reflection written on July 25, 2009.

To send the ecard above, click on the image or go to: http://m.crosscards.com/cards/scripture-cards/proverbs-4-18.html

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Proverbs: Mashal


Friday, August 28, 2020

King Solomon

King Solomon

Proverbs

Mashal

“There is no English word that adequately translates the Hebrew mashalIt embraces a broad category of literary forms: oracle (Nm 23,7); discourse (Jb 29,1); parable (Ps 78,2); taunt-song (Is 14,4). In each case there is a lesson to be learned, and for this reason the mashal might best be understood as ‘an example from life’ intended to instruct.  (Although some scholars understand mashal in the limited sense of a specific form, it will be used here as a general category unless otherwise indicated.) This is the word that identifies two major collections as “The Proverbs of Solomon” (10,1; 25,1) and from which the book itself receives its name.

“The root meaning of mashal is ‘likeness’ or ‘comparison’ as in ‘Like mother like daughter,’ or in the contrast ‘better safe than sorry.’  As a comparison, it usually consists of two parts in some kind of poetic construction”.  (Senior RG 256)

Solomon cannot have been more clear with his comparisons and explications. He writes with clarity and precision about the wisdom that guides him with the difficult and complex work as leader of a nation rising in stature and power. He shares all that he knows about how to avoid wrongdoing and how to keep to the narrow path that Wisdom lays down before us. The distractions of the world are many and they are deceptive. Temptation, when it succeeds in luring us away from God, comes to us gently, subtly, and in the guise of something or someone we love. Solomon warns us of pitfalls. He gives us clear words for success in God’s way; yet even Solomon himself ignores the very wisdom he imparts to us. We will want to avoid the fall comes to Solomon.

When we look at these chapters and verses we prefer to see their wisdom for change in our enemies and their wisdom of reinforcement for ourselves. We humans prefer that others adjust to our vision of reality rather than change anything about our own image as we take lesson from these mashal. And in this way of living we miss much of God’s Wisdom.

In the opening chapter several days ago, we have risen in full blossom with the beginning verses. Who among us does not see ourselves as intelligent and perceptive? And so we are. We yearn to be the wise one who gains sound guidance; we yearn for resourcefulness, justice and honesty. Yet also are we – from time to time at least – the ones who casts our lot with those who spread the net of gossip to gain an end. We are also – from time to time – among the number who love our own inanity. We petition God for wisdom, discipline, and security and this is what we find in these Mashal of Solomon.  We must step outside of ourselves to read these verses and to assess who we are and what we do. This, of course, takes wisdom.

If we read the story of this wise King Solomon we see what falls to him in the waning years of his life.  (1 Kings 11) Even this wise, and powerful, and wealthy servant of God falls victim to the wide road as he leaves behind the narrow path of God. So it is that we read the words he brings to us today, and we pray.

Good and wise God, we ask for knowledge rather than power. We ask for hope rather than fame. We ask for the ability to love you as you love us rather than the false security of this world. Instruct us in your narrow way. Save us from our self-willing inanity. Keep us ever in the presence of your Wisdom. Remind us of her value each day. Shield us from bitterness and anger, and remind us that you and your Wisdom are with us always, even as we call out for you. Amen.


For more on the Book of Proverbs, click on the image above or go to: http://mandyspath.wordpress.com/tag/proverbs/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 256. Print.   

Also see the Proverbs – Courage page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/wisdom/proverbs-courage/

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Sirach 22Fool or Friend

friends[1]This book of wisdom is full of wonderful, universal sayings that last though the ages; and Chapter 22 is no exception.  As we near the end of another year, we often spend time thinking about our relationships, from our most intimate to our most casual.  Yesterday we considered how and why we forge and maintain relationships.  Today we continue that introspection and we examine the friendships and the value-structure we build.

When we interact with others . . .

Do we take the time, do we practice diligence in reviewing what we say before we say it?  Can we look at ourselves through the filter of today’s reading which describes both the foolish and the true friend to place ourselves somewhere along this continuum?  Do we find ourselves among those who let friendship come and go like dry leaves before a wind or like small stones lying on an open height [that] will not remain when the wind blows?  Or can we say that we work at being a true and constant friend, demanding much of ourselves as we struggle to walk that fine line between openness to reconciliation and refusal to enable abuse?

Fools and friends. We are surrounded by all kinds of people and we are engulfed in all sorts of circumstances.  We ourselves are sometimes the fool, sometimes the friend. As we move through a global pandemic, we likely have images of fools and friends who both encourage and infuriate us. Foolishness and friendship at times blur into one another. At other times they are starkly different. When our vision is clouded by too much input and too little truth, we have a true, authentic, and constant Friend. Let us resolve to always look for reconciliation where there are rifts. Let us draw healthy boundaries that discourage abuse. Let us walk in the way shown to us by Jesus. Let us leave behind the habits of a fool and take up the mantle of a true friend.

And let us pray . . .

God creator, when you formed us out of the universe, you had in mind that we would look to you for wisdom and that we would commit to the work of befriending not only the faithful who walk with you but those who linger on the margins as well. Teach us to move away from the tempting life of doing nothing in order that we avoid error. Guard us from the impulsive life of speaking and acting before we think. Grant us the strength to risk even a bit of ourselves just as you have risked all you have in your relationship with us. Move us out of any spiritual sluggishness, and energize us with your Spirit. For our part, we will put aside our willingness to suffer fools lightly or to behave as fools ourselves. We will observe the careful lines between these worlds of fools and friends as we remain open to the reconciliation you ask all of us to seek. As we prepare to enter into a new season and a new cycle of our lives, we pledge this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


First written on December 28, 2010; re-written and posted today as  a Favorite.

For another reflection about Friendship: The Space Between, click on the image above or go to: http://camryndarkstone.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/real-friends/

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Sirach 22Fool or Friend

220px-RWS_Tarot_00_Fool[1]This chapter opens with some marvelous images of those who are lazy: The sluggard is like a stone in the mud; everyone hisses at his disgrace.  The sluggard is like a lump of dung; whoever touches him wipes his hand.  Images of people I have known through my life move before me in a motion picture of stories I had forgotten.  They are awakened today as I read about unruly children, a hussy, fools – teaching a fool is like gluing a broken pot, or like disturbing a man in the depths of sleep.  Still further on we are admonished to steer clear of brutes and stupid men, people with timid resolve.

Then we arrive at a wonderful didactic piece on friendship in which we are asked to remember that a contemptuous insult, a confidence broken, or a treacherous attack will drive away any friend.  And before flames burst forth an oven smokes; so does abuse come before bloodshed.  A final warning about the importance of friendship closes this song: From him who brings harm to his friend all will stand aloof who hear of it.  But this anthem to friendship seems to me to hinge upon verse 21: Should you draw a sword against a friend, fear not, you can be reconciled. 

Finally we read a simple prayer: Who will set a guard over my mouth and upon my lips an effective seal, that I may not fall through them, that my tongue might not destroy me?  This last verse of Sirach 22 is an effective morning prayer that any one of us might want to intone as we rise.  Who among us has not regretted words that were said in haste or without having undergone serious thought before leaving our lips?

As we consider Fools and Friends, we remind ourselves that the links we create with others and the manner in which we interact with others tell the world about our relationship with God.  We pause in our reflection to consider our relationships with others, including God.  We take some time over the next twenty-four hours to discover something old and something new about ourselves.  We consider what kind of fool we have been, what sort of friendship we nurture, and how much room we make for God in the bonds we forge in life.


To investigate how and why others forge relationships, go to the Blogroll in the column to the right on this blog and choose a link.  As we explore, we have the opportunity to discern something new and something old about ourselves; we are offered the opportunity to define the fools and friends in our lives, and what they have to tell us about ourselves. Tomorrow, Part II of Fool or Friend.

Image from: http://thefoolsquest.blogspot.com/

First written on December 28, 2008; re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

reading-bible-blue[1]Proverbs 1:20

Crying Out

Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the open squares she raises her voice . . .

We humans are not the only ones who cry out for God’s mercy.  Wisdom herself asks God for generous integrity.

God says: Those who commit evil acts do not see that they set traps for themselves. Otherwise they would turn to me and cry out for mercy.  Those who abide with me understand that I have created each of you with the potential for goodness.  You do well to consult with Wisdom . . . for she knows my ways . . . and she is always prepared to guide you home to me.

We say we seek wisdom and yet . . . do we call on her?


For more thoughts on where and how to find wisdom, enter the word Wisdom in the blog search bar and reflect.

Image from: https://pixabay.com/photos/open-book-open-bible-bible-hand-2809972/

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

jobww[1]Job 38:1

Out of the Storm

Then the Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said . . .

In this first of the Wisdom Books there is much to learn.  A loyal and faithful servant is suddenly struck with misfortune and is further beset by a long series of disasters.  Friends berate him; his wife suggests that he curse God and die; yet through all of the adversity Job keeps his eye on God and his heart in God’s hands.  And it is out of the storm that seems to destroy Job that the Lord speaks.

God says: Despite what some may believe I do not delight in the troubles that stalk the world.  Although you may not fully recognize my presence I am with you always.  Regardless of what others tell you, I will not abandon even one of you or take my watchful eye from you.  I accompany you through the heavy times as well as the joyful ones.  Even as the storm of life rages around you I am in the tempest, and it is out of this tempest that I speak to you as I speak to my servant Job to ask: Were you present when the land and her creatures were created . . . were you there when I placed the stars in the heavens . . . have you ever made the sun rise or the tides ebb?  You do not know the intimate details of my plan but know that I hold you in the palm of my hand.  The calamity that appears so enormous to you is as a grain of sand to me and yet from that grain of sand will come a pearl of great price.  Abide with me as Job does . . . and see what plans I have in mind for you.  Plans for you joy and not your woe.

As Paul tells the Romans, and us: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable are God’s ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been God’s counselor?  Or who has given God anything that he may be repaid.  For from God and through God and for God are all things.  To God be glory forever. Amen.  (Romans 11:30-36)

storm-sunshine[1]Although we cannot hope to comprehend God’s economy, we have hope in the resurrection.  Although we cannot hope to feel God’s immediate presence in the storms that enter our lives, we have hope in God’s love.

Spend time with the Book of Job today, or enter the word Job into the blog search bar and reflect on Job’s story.


For a thumbnail sketch of what happens in this story, click on the storm image above or go to: http://www.bibletutor.com/level1/program/start/books/oldtest/psalms/job.htm

Sun image from: http://juliebolduc.com/2012/07/25/sunshine-just-after-the-storm/

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