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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


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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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tissot: Exhortation to the Apostles

James Tissot: Exhortation to the Apostles

Luke 5:16

Come Apart With Me Awhile

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  (Luke 5:16)

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:15)

And after leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. (Mark 6:46)

The Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.  Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place.  (Matthew 12:14-15)

Jesus withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village named Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. (John 11:54)

When Jesus heard what had happened [to John the Baptist], he withdrew privately by boat to a solitary place.  (Matthew 14:13)

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. (Mark 3:7)

Tissot: Jesus Commands his Disciples to Rest

James Tissot: Jesus Commands his Disciples to Rest

Recently in our Noontime journey we have examined how to best survive the ups and downs of a life lived in discipleship.  We have reflected on how to best withstand the plots and schemes devised by the discontented.  We have focused on how to best respond to God’s call. And through all of this we may find ourselves exhausted.  If this is so, we must do as Jesus and his companions did . . . we must go apart for a time.

If you are able, make the intentional effort of leaving one day a week to re-connect with the treasure of yourself.  If you have spent much time with chores and tasks, put them aside and go out into the world to experience the gift of connecting with others.  If you need time on your own, set yourself apart for a time either alone or with someone with whom you need to re-connect.  Put away anything that takes you away from restoring your soul and re-filling your well.  Our world draws us into or out of ourselves in such alluring ways that before we notice, we have either detached ourselves from human community or we have thrown ourselves entirely into it without listening to our hearts.  What we seek today is a bit of balance for with balance comes wisdom and peace.

To help us reflect, let us look at some of the images created by James Tissot, and let us remind ourselves that we are in each of these scenes.  Let us thank Christ for walking with us each day even when we forget his presence.  And let us carry Christ to others as we have been asked to do.

Tissot: Jesus Teaching by the Seashore

James Tissot: Jesus Teaching by the Seashore

If you have a favorite citation from scripture in which Jesus withdraws for a time either alone or with his disciples, insert it in the comment box below.  If you are more visual, search the net for another of Tissot’s scenes from The Life of Christ and share that link in the comment box.

May each of us come away with Christ for a time, may each of us restore the soul and settle the heart, and may each of us enjoy a day of peace and balance.


James Tissot (1833-1902) was “a nineteenth-century French painter who for the first part of his career had a reputation as a ‘French society painter [whose subjects were] the costumes and manners, occupations and pleasures of the French capital’s elegantes.’ This all changed in the early 1890s when Tissot renewed his ties to the Catholicism of his youth after experiencing a vision during a Mass when the priest raised the host. For the rest of his life, he devoted himself to the series of religious paintings numbering in the hundreds given here. Tissot’s lasting reputation rests on this series The Life of Christ on all periods of Jesus Christ’s life from the Annunciation to the Resurrection”.   (Berry)

For more of Berry’s review and others, go to: www.amazon.com/James-Tissot-The-Life-Christ/product-reviews/1858944961

Berry, Henry. “James Tissot: The Life of Christ.” Amazon Reviews. 9 Dec 2009: n. page. Web. 21 Jun. 2013. <http://www.amazon.com/James-Tissot-The-Life-Christ/product-reviews/1858944961&gt;.

Images from: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/tags/tissot

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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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