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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


1 Maccabees 4:1-35: Living and Dying Nobly

Holy Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Do not fear their numbers or be afraid . . .

Judas Maccabeus and his Jewish followers were steeped in the scripture and so the idea of placing one’s fear in God’s hands in order to live and die nobly was a familiar message to them.

God speaks to Abram in Genesis 15:1 saying: Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward. 

In Joel 2:21 the prophet exhorts all of creation to take heart.

Nearly a dozen times the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel we are told that we need not be afraid because God is with us.

Zechariah tells us: Do not be afraid but let your hands be strong. (8:13)

In Psalm 21 the psalmist asks why we fear when we have the Lord as our rock and protector.

In Psalms 56 and 118 the writer reminds all of us to trust in God when we become fearful.

In Proverbs 3:24 we are encouraged to rest in God alone so that we do not fear.

When we allow assurance in our relationship with God to become part of our fiber, fear oozes away in the warmth of God’s light.  The soldiers in today’s reading do this and their enemy is amazed when they see their courage.

Lysias saw how ready they were to either live or die nobly . . .

Judas Maccabeus

We too, might be ready to live or die nobly if we only allow the Spirit to saturate us.  Perhaps we can make this a Lenten pledge: When fear threatens to overtake us, we will turn to Christ who will remind us . . . Do not fear their numbers or be afraid . . . I am with you. 


A re-post from March 2, 2012.

Images from: http://apoloblogology.blogspot.com/2008_11_01_archive.html and http://phillchida.blogspot.com/2011/06/love-letter-to-my-heavenly-father.html and 

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Sirach 7: Public and Private Life

Friday, March 29, 2019

Several days ago we reflected on the meaning of our public image in the Book of Daniel; today with Sirach we might spend time with how this compares to our private life.  The Irish culture holds an image of a man who is a street angel but a house devil . . . pleasant and amiable – even lovable – to his neighbors . . . while beating his wife and children behind closed doors.  How many of us harbor devils inside that we do not show to the world?  How do these devils slip into our lives without our knowing?

We are advised by Jesus ben Sirach to bring our public and private lives into line with our covenant promise with Yahweh.

In this book of wisdom, we are cautioned that we must be humble in our dealings with one another; we ought not seek out the high places at the table.  We are warned to refrain from seeking work as a judge unless we have the strength to root out crime; otherwise we succumb to corruption and mar our integrity.  We ought not flaunt our wisdom, our power, our wealth, our specialness in any way . . . for our pride will be our undoing.  This is how humility arrives.

We are also advised to steer clear of situations the catechism refers to as near occasions of sin: those times when we ourselves do not sin but come dangerously close to slipping over the precipice into evil.  Standing by wordless as we watch malevolence occur without offering witness to injustice is not the way of the Lord. When we lack courage, we only need to look to God for strength.  This is how fortitude arrives.

We ought to pray in earnest and not hurry through prayer as this leaves room for a false sense of independence from God.  We humble ourselves appropriately when we come before the Lord and so we ought to enter into prayerfulness with deliberation and patience so that we might all the better hear the word of God.  This is how wisdom arrives.

In private and in our family life, we need to continue to live with thoughtfulness, with intention.  Treating servants well – or the people we meet in the mall, in the supermarket, in the gas station – leads us to treating all well.  Honoring elders, respecting the living, remembering the dead.  This is how piety arrives.

Refrain from bartering for friends.  Mourn with those who mourn.  Steer clear of those who do not.  Visit the sick.  This is how compassion arrives.

When we eliminate fear and pain from our lives by blocking them out and riding over these powerful emotions, we also eliminate important opportunities for learning the ways of God.  We erase the opportunities for God to guide and protect us.  When we petition God and thank him for his bounty, we indicate our understanding that we are his creatures.  This is how faith arrives.

When we balance our inner self with our outer self, we clear away the dark corners where house devils might lurk.  Integrity finds a comfortable dwelling place within . . . and chases away these devils to make room for angels.  This is how hope arrives.

When we bring into focus our whole mind, our whole heart, our whole body and our whole soul to celebrate our union with God, we enter into his divinity.  This is why the words of Jesus ben Sirach are so important to us today.  With all your strength, love your Creator . . . for this is how love arrives.


A re-post from March 29, 2012.

Image from: http://sandeshavahini.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-heart-in-the-bible/

To review the Noontime reflection on Public Life go to: https://thenoontimes.wordpress.com/2012/3/23/

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Lectio Divina

“God spots” in the human brain

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spiritual reading is often seen as a desperate last step in a series of pleas to God. Many of us see the contemplation of the sacred word as a last resort or a last worried petition for God’s attention.  The reality is that we constantly have God’s attention and need do nothing special for God to “notice” us.  We are well-loved and well-attended although there are times when we feel this may not be so.

Contemplative prayer is often seen as something we do when we can find the time.  It is seen as the work of the consecrated religious or the spiritually gifted. The truth is that each of us has the capacity to consider and reflect on God’s goodness.  We need no special talent and no special tools.  We each have a God spot that scientists have identified and in fact there are likely “several areas of the brain that form the biological foundations of religious belief”.  (“Independent”)  We are well-equipped and well-blessed with this gift from God.

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, a time when we approach Holy Week and the miracle of Easter.  Let us spend some time today with just a bit of scripture if we do not have time for a chapter or a book.  Let us spend some time today with the process of lectio divina even if for only twenty minutes or so.  Let us spend some time today with the Creator who loves us and tends to us.  This Creator longs to commune with us, yearns to touch is in special ways, wants to bless us and grace with all manner of gifts.  Let us give a bit of time today to God in a bit of reading, a bit of meditation, and a bit of communication.  We will find that the time we spend will come back to us in the form of patience, wisdom, and a newly-found peace.


Image from: http://ymiblogging.org/2010/01/god-spot/

“Belief and the brain’s ‘God spot’ .” Independent. 10 March 2009: n. page. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html&gt;.

If you do not know how to begin, go to the Scripture as Prayer page on this blog, of go to:

For more information on God spots, go to: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html, or http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=2886, or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/10/brains-god-spot-discovere_n_173705.html, or http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104291534, or http://ymiblogging.org/2010/01/god-spot/

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Joshua 23: A Final Plea

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Jericho

It is clear that Joshua understands his people when we read today’s Noontime scripture.  He has brought them from the edge of the wilderness into the fertile land that God has promised them.  He has led their troops, solved their squabbles, and he has kept them faithful to God as they live side by side with pagan peoples.  He has one final plea.

We are about to enter the season of Lent, a time for reflection and introspection. Today we have an opportunity to consider that we stand before Joshua, a man who knows our story. Let us listen well.

Strive hard to observe and carry out all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not straying from it in any way or mingling with these nations while they survive among you.  We might recall here the parable of the weeds growing among the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30 that we considered in our Continued Progress NoontimeGod does not call us to wipe out all who oppose or stifle us; rather, God asks that we learn to grow amid those who would pull us from our steady progress toward God.  Joshua calls likewise to us today, encouraging us to follow the voice of God, to grow in wisdom.  When we allow God’s wisdom to counsel us rather than succumb to our own petty fears and whims, we will have responded to this final plea.

At your approach you have driven our large and small nations, and to this day no one has withstood you.  One of you puts to flight a thousand because it is the Lord, your God, himself who fights for you, as he promised you.  We so quickly take credit for our successes and blame God for our failures.  It seems we cannot withstand the truth of our own existence.  When we remember the so many big and little triumphs of our lives in the light of God’s goodness instead of the brightness of our own effort, all anxiety, resentment and envy melt away.  We cease to compare our circumstances to those of others; we see our lives for what they are: a continuing response to – or a willful turning away from – God’s call.  Joshua asks us today to consider the origin of our security and achievement; and he reminds us that God alone governs all.  When we admit that God’s strength and fidelity are gifts we receive without even asking, we will have demonstrated our own willingness to respond to this final plea.

If you ever abandon God and ally yourselves with the remnant of these [pagan] nations while they survive among you, by intermarrying and intermingling with them, know for certain that . . . they will be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns for your eyes.  Joshua worries, of course, that his people will disappear into the societies that surround and live side by side with them.  He knows how easily we can be convinced that daily prayer and faithful worship have little effect upon us.  He understands our weaknesses because he has managed the in-fighting and back-stabbing that happens when people come together in a common cause.  He also understands our strengths because he has led a stiff-necked and cantankerous people successfully by following God’s counsel rather than the shallow wisdom of oracles; he has deferred to God’s plans and put away his own.  Joshua recalls the covenant they have agreed upon with God and that it invokes reward or doom; he reminds his people that God always keeps his promises. When we willingly turn away from the siren call of the idols that clutter our lives, we will give witness to our own commitment to God, and we will have answered this final plea.

This chapter closes with a description of God’s Wrath and before we become frightened by these images let us remember that Christ comes to fulfill the Old Testament Covenant and to replace it with a new Law of Love.  When we remember that the God of wrath we see described here is actually the God of Love that Christ shows us . . . we will have little trouble – and much reward – when we respond to Joshua’s final plea.


Adapted from a reflection posted on December 11, 2011.

Image from: http://www.biblebios.com/joshua/joshua.htm

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Job 36: Innocence


Job 36Innocence

Friday, February 15, 2019

Too many times the innocent suffer.  Too often the blameless stand accused unjustly.  What do we do when this happens?  What wisdom supports us?  What hope sustains us?  What love overcomes the insurmountable object that blocks the path?

God does not listen to lies . . . God rejects the obstinate in heart . . . even when we lie to ourselves.

God does not defend the wicked . . . God preserves not the life of the wicked . . . even when it appears that the wicked have won.

God abides with his faithful . . . God withholds not the just man’s rights, but grants vindication to the oppressed . . . even when we arrive at a place of hopelessness.

God always listens to the broken hearted . . . God saves the unfortunate through their affliction, and instructs them through distress . . . even though we do not feel his presence . . . God is there.

Behold, God is sublime in his power . . . God is great beyond our knowledge . . .

God is miniscule . . . God holds in check the water drops that filter in rain through mists.

God is vast . . . God nourishes the nations and gives them sustenance.

God is powerful . . . In God’s hands he holds the lightning.

God is good . . . God spreads the clouds in layers as the carpets of his tent.

In our innocence we stand before this awesome God.

In our innocence we are vindicated in our faith in God.

In our innocence we are saved by our hope in God.

In our innocence we are justified by our love for God.

In our innocence we are redeemed by our patient waiting on God.

Be still and know that God is God . . .


A re-post from Fenruary 15, 2019.

Image from: http://jesus-photos-pictures.blogspot.com/2010/11/god-holding-world-in-his-hands-photos.html 

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2 Chronicles 1The Story

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Written on January 13, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Solomon

Each of us has a story to tell.  Each of us is a story to the world.

The story of Solomon is one of building, of amalgamating, and of glorifying.  It is also a story of forgetfulness, of straying and of falling apart.

How will our own story evolve?  What will our own story ultimately tell the world about us?

In today’s reading we see Solomon begin to gather himself and his people.

Solomon, son of David, strengthened his hold on the kingdom, for the Lord, his God, was with him.

Do we have a handle on who we are and what we stand for?  Is God integral to our plans?

God appears to Solomon to commune with him as they work together.

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Make a request of me, and I will grant it to you”.

Do we cultivate our relationship with God?  Do we leave ourselves open to his will and word?

Solomon asks for wisdom and knowledge, eschewing the gifts of wealth, power and fame.  What do we ask for so that we might build our story with God?

Solomon returned from the high place at Gibeon, from the meeting tent, and became king over Israel.

Solomon returns from his place of prayer with where he and his assembly have awaited God’s word and he begins the work placed in his hands.

Once we come away from our meeting place with God, whose work do we set about doing?  Do we ever return to that high place to continue our conversation with God?   How do we use our hands, our feet and our hearts to unfold the story that is ours to tell?  And ultimately, what does our story say to the world?


A re-post from January 31, 2012.

Image from: http://www.bible-topten.com/Solomon.htm

To read more about Solomon, Bathsheba, and the Temple, click on the image above or go to:

http://www.bible-topten.com/Solomon.htm

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Acts 6Into the Maelstrom

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

St. Stephen

This reading may strike home for many of us today.  Our work is going well.  So well, in fact, that it is clear that more workers are needed.  The call goes out, workers are vetted and taken in . . . and then the grumbling begins.  Camps and sides form quickly.  The Old Guard feels the need to protect certain traditions and practices against the ideas of the Newcomers.  The newest workers push against the reactions of the old timers.  Protocols and policies change.  There is discontent.  We divide ourselves into factions or sects.  We either protect what we know or we tear down what we believe to be stale.  The story we read today teaches us how to behave when we enter the maelstrom.

Footnotes help us to understand the different factions.  “The Hellenists were not necessarily Jews from the diaspora, but were more probably Palestinian Jews who spoke only Greek.  The Hebrews were Palestinian Jews who spoke Hebrew or Aramaic and who may also have spoken Greek.  Both groups belong to the Jerusalem Christian community.  The conflict between them leads to a restructuring of the community that will better serve the community’s needs. The real purpose of the whole episode, however, is to introduce Stephen as a prominent figure in the community whose long speech and martyrdom will be recounted in ch. 7”. (Senior 193)

We notice almost immediately that jealousy brews against Stephen and commentary further helps us to understand the further implications of the conflict we hear today.  “The charges that Stephen depreciated the importance of the temple and the Mosaic law and elevated Jesus to a stature above Moses (6, 13-14) were in fact true.  Before the Sanhedrin, no defense against them was possible.  With Stephen, who thus perceived the fuller implications of the teachings of Jesus, the differences between Judaism and Christianity began to appear.  Luke’s account of Stephen’s martyrdom and its aftermath shows how the major impetus behind the Christian movement passed from Jerusalem, where the temple and law prevailed, to Antioch in Syria, where these influences were less pressing”.  (Senior 193)

Verse 10 tells us all: They could not withstand the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. 

I am thinking of an article I read just last night of a similar conflict in the National Catholic reporter.  Written by Tom Roberts and entitled, “Seismic shifts reshape US Catholicism,” it investigates the inevitability of change that happens when humans form a community.  Liberals find that the change taking place is happening too slowly.  Conservatives believe that the change they see happening must be halted.  Moderates find themselves squeezed between these two inexorable forces.  The conflict will ebb and flow with the natural social, political and fiscal movements and everyone begins to gather their own opinions in defense of a stance.  Tensions ratchet upward.  Wisdom and the Spirit – rather than clearing the air – are shoved into oblivion and the inevitable explosion takes place.  As Christians, rather than succumb to the temptation to splinter into groups we must find a way to come together.

When we read this story in Acts we have the opportunity to look at ourselves to see how we fit into God’s plan for the world today.  When we read the story in Acts we have the chance to examine how we witness to Jesus today.  When we read the story in Acts we are called to examine how we allow Wisdom and the Spirit to influence our daily interactions with others.

When we are called to speak as Stephen speaks we must also be prepared to disappear into the maelstrom that will follow.

When we hear another speak as Stephen speaks we must be prepared to be open to the voice of Wisdom and the power of the Spirit.

When we enter the place where a conflict is raging we are called to witness as Christians must . . . with grace, and mercy, and wisdom . . . and always in the Spirit of God.


A re-post from January 22, 2012.

Image from: http://frbenedict.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.193. Print.

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Wisdom 15:1-6God’s Wrath

Thursday, December 27, 2018

But you, our God, are good and true, slow to anger, and governing with all mercy.

It is easy to believe that God is full of wrath when we read the Old Testament; the New Testament tells us that this is not so.   Yesterday’s Mass and MAGNIFICAT readings and prayers all tell us that we have much to be grateful for in God.  They tell us that we have much to be happy about with God.  They tell us that we have much to love through God.

God is our constant shepherd – even when we do not feel God’s presence, God is with us.

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp, now moved and went around behind them. (Exodus 14:19)

The angel of the Lord . . . stood between the fleeing Israelites and their Egyptian pursuers during the exodus, and hid them from sight.  God goes with us, guards us and guides us today with the same protective love. 

The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher.  While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right and to the left.  (Isaiah 30:20-21)

Yesterday’s first reading was from Daniel 5 in which King Belshazzar asks advice of Daniel, the Jewish exile in whom the spirit of God rests.  Daniel interprets “the writing on the wall” and brings God’s wisdom to those who would worship idols rather than the living God.

Yesterday’s Gospel from Luke 21:12-19: Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.  Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to refute.  You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  You will b heated because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.  By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

We may find all of this frightening . . . yet this is the work of Christ’s disciples.

We may find all of this exhausting . . . yet we draw strength from Christ.

We may find all of this overwhelming . . . yet we as disciples persist through Christ.

If we find all of this too confusing and too difficult, we will want to remember that Christ is God among us who comes to live as one of us . . . who brings us wisdom and strength.

If we find all of this too baffling and too crushing, we will want to remember that our perfection lies in our persistence . . . and that this is all that God asks of us.

If we find that all of this causes anger to rise within, we will want to remember that what we see as God’s wrath is God’s love.

And so we pray . . .

Dear God, From time to time our sight is blurred and our hearing dimmed and we must retreat for a time to take a journey inward, to ask your counsel, and to seek your wisdom.  Bring us your comfort and strength.  Set us on the right path.  Teach us to put aside our anger and our ridiculous idols.  Teach us to listen for you.  Teach us to trust in you alone.  Call us home to you.  Amen.


A re-blog from November 24, 2011.

Image from: http://cldefelice.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.html

If we come to this hectic holiday season with too much anger, we may want to take a journey inward to examine who we are and how we behave.  To take a journey in which we examine our own use of anger go to the Journey of Transformation page on this blog. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.11 (2011): 317-318. Print.  

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Psalm 19The Builder’s Craft

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

If we get away from ambient light to look into the heavens on a clear night, we will see millions of stars . . . and it is all too breath-taking.  The sky proclaims the builder’s craft.

On a clear day when we look into the skies, we see powder puffs or high horse tails of clouds; on other days the banks and streaks of clouds announce a coming storm . . . and it is all too awesome.  The sky proclaims the builder’s craft.

If we look at the one who announces God among us, Jesus, we see that . . . he is all too splendid.  He too, proclaims the builder’s craft.  He is the Lord’s law, the new law that supersedes the old and fulfills the promises made to Abraham.  The psalmist describes this law, this Christ to us.  He is . . . perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, giving wisdom, right, clear, pure, true, desirable, and sweet.  He comes to save and restore.  He is among us to transform.  He is our rock and our redeemer.

We are also the builder’s craft for we are created in God’s image, adopted as Jesus’ sisters and brothers, consoled and protected by God’s Spirit.  When we allow ourselves to be cleansed of our faults – both known and unknown – then shall we be blameless and innocent of grave sin.

Then will the words or our mouths meet with the Lord’s favor.

Then will we keep our thoughts ever before God.

Then will we fully know that we are, like the skies, the handiwork of God’s loving hands.

Then will we declare with full voice the glory of God, and like the skies, then will we . . . proclaim the builder’s craft.


A re-post from November 8, 2011.

Image from: http://www.arizonatourismcenter.com/scottsdale/index-scottsdale.php/Stargazing-Tours-14/

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