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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Wisdom 9: Solomon’s Prayer

SolomonsPrayer[1]Solomon is a well-known figure in scripture.  At a fairly young age he is given a unified kingdom by his father, David.  When asked what he wishes to have in this world he asks for Wisdom.  We are told that he receives this and more . . . all the wealth, power and status he had not asked for.  He seems destined for greatness and so he is.

Rulers from all parts journey to visit him, to see the beautiful palace and temple he builds, and to experience at close range how this singular king loves and is loved by his singular God.  Even the remarkable Queen of Sheba requests and is granted a special visit.  Later in his story, we are told that he loved many foreign women and married several.  It is likely that in this way he meant to secure alliances with potential enemies; yet these enemies defeat him in a quiet and insidious way.  The writer of 1 Kings tells us: When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the Lord, his God, as the heart of his father David had been. (1 Kings 11:4) After this, the kingdom comes tumbling down.

Today we spend time with Solomon’s Prayer which can also read in 1 Kings 8 and we speculate what it was that drew him away from God into the world.  We picture what lured him to foreign gods and extravagant women.  We can imagine what and who convinced him that authority and influence were more important than fidelity to Yahweh.  When we reflect on Solomon’s Prayer, we might want to make it our own and pray it often . . . resisting the lure of self-deceit and warding off the siren song of the material world.  And so we pray to the God of Solomon, the Living God.

Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne . . . For alone I cannot manage my days and nights sensibly.

Reject me not from among your children . . . I will make mistakes and I know that you will pardon me.

You have bid me build a temple on your holy mountain, an altar in the city that is your dwelling place, a copy of the holy tabernacle you had established of old . . .  I will do my best to act as you ask, to answer as you call, to praise as you create.

Send forth Wisdom from your holy heavens that she may be with me and work with me . . .  I really cannot do this without your voice in my ear.

For who knows God’s counsel, who can conceive what the Lord intends?  I cannot conceive of that you see, all that you know, all that you do. I only understand that your are goodness and therefore do only good.

Piero della Francesca: Legend of the Cross - The Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon

Piero della Francesca: Legend of the Cross – The Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon

Thus were the paths of those on earth made straight, and we learned what was your pleasure, and were saved by Wisdom.  So abide with me that you might bring goodness out of any action I take may harm another.  Remain with me that I might remain in you.  Love me always that I might always love others.

Amen.


A re-post from January 9, 2013.

Read more about Solomon in 1 Kings and in 1 Chronicles. www.Biblegateway.com

To read more about Solomon’s Prayer, click on the image above or go to: http://www.hedua.com/blog/solomons-prayer/

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Sunday, January 5, 2020

Acts 4:23-31: Spiritual Realities

Deep Space as seen from Hubble

Deep Space as seen from Hubble

Many of us think of reality as a quality in opposition to spirituality.  Today Paul tells us that this is not so and earlier this week a friend and I shared our thoughts on our own spirituality: who we are, why we exist, what our purpose is, and where we are going . . . spiritually.

I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling . . . The human condition is one in which we easily confuse our physical and spiritual states.  Our surrounding world and prevailing pressures push us always away from God’s wisdom; they lure us into trusting the world’s wisdom.

The Spirit scrutinizes everything . . . We rely on word of mouth, on the Internet, and TVs talking heads, on anything other than God.  We hesitate to examine our thoughts and actions too closely; we have drawn veils across the truths we do not wish to see.

We speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden . . . When we allow ourselves to make a journey of the cross, God’s wisdom begins to make more sense to us; the world’s wisdom begins to fade.

We speak about [the things freely given us by God] not by words taught by human wisdom but by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.  We need to learn and use the vocabulary, syntax and linguistics of spirituality if we hope to engage in conversation with God closely; intimacy with God grows only when we devote time and energy to our own spiritual reality.

Who are we?  Why are we?  What are we doing?  Where are we going?

These questions all have answers.  These answers are not found in the world but in God.  We find God in our own spiritual reality.  We find our spiritual reality when we spend time with God.

As we approach the last day of the Christmas season and we commemorate the Magi who wisely bring gifts to the Messiah, let us find time and let us expend energy in the examination of our spiritual reality.  And let us prepare to bring the gift of our spiritual selves to the one who created all, for it is in this open vulnerability to God and that we discover God’s wisdom.  And it is in this willingness to know our spiritual reality . . . that we find the answers to these questions that define us.


A re-post from January 5, 2013.

Image from: http://michaelgr.com/2007/05/20/the-hubble-space-telescope-vs-new-james-webb-space-telescope/

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Proverbs 27: Perceiving Evil

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Woven among the threads of practical advice in these proverbs are many other strands that alert us to the presence of evil in our lives.  The alarms are not strident and can be easily missed – just as evil itself can approach us disguised as goodness.  Evil is seen as being present everywhere: in nature as well as humans.

Friendship is feigned in order to gain some end, intimacies are betrayed, decency is imitated.  Only the crucible of life can test the value of the silver and gold we see before us; and only the passion of living life honestly will save us from the fire of life’s furnace.  Fools are portrayed as both perpetrators and receivers of evil.

Where do we turn in a place where so much evil abounds?  What do we do about evil that knows no limits or boundaries?

Good stewardship is praised and seen as a worthy foil for evil’s assault on the faithful.  Striving for unity rather than putting up with division is another antidote.  Honesty is encouraged, as is the nurturing of relationships.

But perhaps the most telling piece of advice that speaks to the power of evil is this: The shrewd man perceives evil and hides; simpletons continue on and suffer the penalty.  And we are reminded that: As one face differs from another, so does one human heart from another . . .Though you should pound the fool to bits [with the pestle, amid the grits in the mortar], his folly would not go out of him.

Fools and evil keep ready company.  So do the faithful and their God.  As we near the end of this Book of Common Sense, we might return to earlier chapters where Wisdom is praised for her instruction; power of God is seen as the only vaccination against evil – and these are tools which only work as well as we able to implement them.  This is why it is essential to spend time with God each day – because evil is everywhere.  It is why it is imperative that we seek God’s counsel in all we do – because only God can deal with the kind of evil that imitates goodness in order to take over the soul.

Evil is described as being omniscient – and even hiding in the most intimate and most cherished places: families, neighborhoods, the closest of relationships.  The only surety we have against being invaded by this silent intruder is the defense we are offered by our God.  We do well to remember this and to take the proffered gift gladly.


Image from: http://www.kenlauher.com/daily-wisdom/

For more on this Book of  Common Sense, go to the Proverbs – Courage page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/wisdom/proverbs-courage/

Written on October 18, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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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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2 Chronicles 10: Ignoring Advice

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sometimes the advice we receive from others is worthless; sometimes it is pure gold.  The difficulty in life is to discern when to heed which words.  This can be resolved when we decide to draw on God’s wisdom  as our primary source of advice, and then allow the words of our family and friends to fill in the gaps of what we believe to be God’s message.

We may have difficulty hearing the Word within; if so, we may want to practice the art of listening a bit more until we have formed well-trodden spiritual pathways to God and back.

We may have difficulty feeling the Word of God resonate within; if so, we may want to practice feeling empathy for those unlike us a bit more until we have taught our hearts more of God’s language.

We may have difficulty expressing  the Word of God to others; if so, we may want to find a trusted friend who will serve as a sounding board for our thoughts.

We may have difficulty witnessing to the Word of God in a public way; if so, we may want to spend time with Scripture to see how others have done so through the ages.

Communication in any form does not come easily.  It takes practice.  Finding trustworthy sources of wisdom of any kind is a challenge.  It takes persistence.  Acting in a manner that matches our beliefs for any reason is difficult at best.  It takes authenticity.  Speaking in a way that calls others to Christ in any way is complicated.  It takes fidelity.  Listening in a way that leads us to good, solid decision-making is taxing.  It takes endurance.

All of this patience and compassion is too much for us humans, we say, and yet . . . we know what happens when we take the advice that suits us at the moment but does not challenge us.  We know what happens when we ignore God’s call and go our own way.  We know what happens when we are silent or when we do not act when and as we ought.

The choice before these young men in today’s Noontime is clear.  We see their example.  Do we follow it?  Or do we follow Christ?


Written on September 15, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

To find a Daily Bible Reading Plan, visit: https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV

Or create a plan of your own by beginning with Acts . . . but read each day . . . and listen . . .

Image from: http://niagaranissan.com/ 

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wisdom’s Seven Pillars

Proverbs 9:1-6: Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns; she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes she has spread her table.  She has sent out her maidens; she calls from the heights out over the city: “Let whoever is simple turn in here!”  To the one who lacks understanding, she says, “Come, eat my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding”.

Most of us have made preparations for loved ones who visit us as our guests. We plan and anticipate eagerly the coming of those we have invited.  We bring in food and drink.  We tidy up.  We prepare a sleeping place if our guest is to stay through the night.  In all of these ways we look forward with pleasure to sharing time and space with one who is loved.  Just so does God prepare for us.  Just so does God long to spend time with us and lavish his attention on us.  Let us take up God’s invitation.

God says: I have given you the opportunity to learn from my Wisdom.  Take advantage of it!  I have sent you the Spirit who calls out to you. Follow this voice!  I have prepared a feast of wisdom for you. Come, abide with me and partake of it!  You are my well-loved guest.

Wisdom has much to teach us.  Let us sit by her side, let us listen, and let us learn.


A re-post from August 21, 2012.

To reflect more on the opening Chapters of Proverbs and God’s Wisdom who longs to teach us, enter the word Wisdom in the blog search box. 

For another reflection on Proverbs 9:1-6, click on the image above or visit another devotion at: http://www.allsaintsphoenix.org/index.cfm/pageid/483/index.html

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Sirach 25: Worthy and Wicked

Monday, August 26, 2019

The book of Sirach is full of sound advice accompanied by a great sense of humor.  Harmony, friendship, mutual love.  Pride, dissembling, lechery.  These are qualities that Jesus ben Sirach juxtaposes as he delineates the difference between those who are worthy of praise and those who are wicked.

Some of these verses make us laugh aloud and some of them inspire.  This chapter is followed by the famous dissertation of the ideal wife, which is often read out at Mass, and all of this is good advice when we move it to a 21st Century context.  What does this say to us today?  What do we do about the worthy and the wicked?  What do we do about the conflict between worth and wickedness?

Today we are presented with the contrast between those who are worthy because they live life honestly and well . . . and those who wound the heart and poison relationships.  We know how we are to live, what we are to say, what we are to do, what we are to believe.  But do we do what we know to be correct?  Do we inform our conscience so that we can make good and proper decisions?  How do we educate ourselves about what we are to do and what we are to say? How do we make of ourselves servants who are worthy and not wicked?

Today is the feast of St. Mark, the author of the earliest and briefest of the Gospels.  He was a cousin of Barnabas – the man who accompanied Paul on some of his missions and who even helped to ease Paul’s introduction to the apostles.  Tradition holds that Mark founded the church in Alexandria, and we can see how and why.  His Gospel is simple and direct, burning with his love and his desire to educate us about the Word and to send the Word into the world.  Today’s Gospel reading is from chapter 16, verses 16-20 and it tells us about the result of conflict between worth and wickedness.  It tells us about the struggle that disciples endure.  Reflect on Sirach and Mark and ponder the mystery of this conflict between worth and wickedness . . . and the mystery becomes less clouded.

From the MAGNIFICAT morning intercessions and prayer:

Reward your servants, Lord!

For all who have devoted themselves to the work of translating the word of God into the languages of the world: Reward your servants, Lord!

For all those who labor to produce Bibles for the peoples of all nations: Reward your servants, Lord!

For all who carry your word to places far away and difficult to reach: Reward your servants, Lord!

God, the Father of lights, you flood the world with your word as with a river of light.  Catch up in the waters of life all those who hunger and thirst for knowledge of the truth and the right, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Image from: http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com/tag/quips-and-quotes/

Written on April 25, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.25 (2008). Print.  

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Sirach 18:14-29: Prudence and Self-Control

Friday, August 23, 2019

Luca Giordano: Allegory of Prudence

These are the tools we need to use rather than judgment and anger if we wish to enter into the presence of the Lord.  This is what he asks of us:  To act with compassion when we see injustice, when we experience cruelty, when we see the unity of the kingdom divided by jealousy, greed, division and the desire to control.  These verses hold many kernels of wisdom, as we always find when reading the words of Jesus ben Sirach.

The morning New Testament reading today is from Romans 2: By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath and revelation of the last judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

The MAGNIFICAT intercessions seem fitting:

God of peace, make peace among those at war.

God of justice, make right what we have made wrong.

God of goodness, make holy what we have turned to our own selfish ends.

Amen.


Written on April 22, 2008  and posted today as  a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/luca-giordano-allegory-of-prudence

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.22 (2008): 129-130. Print.  

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Psalm 71:18: Waiting in Patience

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Psalm 71:18I shall always wait in patience, and shall praise you more and more.

Patience is difficult to practice because we have so many fears and we do not want to fail, to be exposed, to lose, to be in pain, to suffer in any way.  Yet the practice of patience itself wears down the fears . . . and brings more patience.

God says: The wisdom I wish to impart to you can only arrive to you through your patient, active waiting.  This patience can be learned through your salvific suffering – by offering your pain for the forgiveness of others.  You cannot solve your problems through your own cleverness or virtue for they weigh too heavily upon you.  I have given you the gift of faith.  From this gift will grow mountains of patience – much like the mustard seed in the parable my son loves to tell.   I also send you hope, through my son, Jesus Christ.  From this gift will flow rivers of patience – much like the rivers in the vision of my prophet Ezekiel.  I have given you the gift of charity toward all.  From this Love of your enemy will flower infinite patience . . . much like the patience my son shows as he dies innocently for others.  And with this faithful, hope-filling, abiding patience . . . you have won my heart.  Be patient with me and with my loving discipline, even as I am patient with you.  Praise me more and more . . . and this patience will permeate you in such a way that it will never leave you.  Just as I will never leave you.  You will never have to be without me.

As you wait for patience to settle into your being, I wish you a blessed and holy day.  A blessed and holy night.


A re-post from July 3, 2012.

Image from: http://adelecassidyyoga.blogspot.com/2012/02/sweet-patience.html

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