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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


Proverbs 17: A Whack on the Head 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A friend of mine once spoke of her belief that God has to get louder when we persist in ignoring the voice that calls us. God may have to hit us over the head, she once observed, if that is the only way we will listen. This Chapter of Proverbs seems to affirm that belief. In THE MESSAGE translation of verses 1-16, we find the subtitle, A Whack on the Head. The verses we find there are nuggets of gold in present societies around the world.

Whitewashing bad people and throwing mud on good people
    are equally abhorrent to God.

Too many political, social and religious leaders step forward with the hope that their followers will make excuses for serious conflicts of interest and lack of expertise. Too many followers are happy to oblige.

What’s this? Fools out shopping for wisdom!
    They wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it!

So many hopeful leaders put aside the school of life and ignore the lessons life brings them. So many followers look for information that affirms their already-established views rather than winnowing through too much information and then making sound decisions.

Verses 17-28 of this Chapter carry the subtitle, One Who Knows Much Says Little. How wise we might be if we took the advice we find here. We spend a great deal of time, energy, and funds looking for wisdom when it is so often close at hand. We travel great distances searching for gurus and sages. We spend large amounts of our physical, fiscal and mental resources looking for quick fixes when the simple strategy of trusting God is always at hand.

The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard;
    fools look for it everywhere but right here.

We avoid conflict or bull our way through tumult rather than allowing God to carry us in Christ’s open and generous arms. We put aside our relationship with the Spirit in order to spend more time with the world. This Chapter of proverbs has advice that is well worth our time and energy.

Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
    as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.

Today, let us consider the words we think and say, and the actions we do and do not complete. And let us determine to live always by trusting the wisdom of God more than we trust our own.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we allow them to awaken us as if they were a whack on the head.

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Proverbs 16: Plans of the Heart – A Reprise 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Today, as we journey through Proverbs, we reprise a post from several years ago in which we see that . . . Everything Belongs.

Man may make plans in his heart, but what the tongue utters is from the Lord.  All the ways of man may be pure in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves the spirit.  Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.  The Lord has made everything for his own ends, even the wicked for the evil day . . . In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.

Humans have a fertile imagination; and weaving a story about ourselves is part of what we do as we form our self-concept.  We are often anxious about the future:  What am I to do?  Where am I to go?  What am I to say?  How am I to act?  We may worry about the past:  Why was I so blind?  How did I miss what they were saying?  And all the time we worry . . . we are missing the blessed present . . . with its opportunity to open our hearts to God’s economy.  The writer of Proverbs reminds us that the best plans are those guided by God.  Trusting in divine providence is so very difficult . . . yet so essential to serene living.

Better a little with virtue, than a large income with injustice . . . How much better to acquire wisdom than gold!  To acquire understanding is more desirable than silver . . . A patient man is better than a warrior, and he who rules his temper, than he who takes a city.

Wisdom is our best instructor.  Living a life characterized by prudence and temperance is difficult in a society which values the supersize in everything.  It is easy to overdo: too much food, too much drink, too much money spent on heat or air conditioning, too much television, too many movies, too many books, too many people making claims on our time, too much aloneness, too much neglect, too much fuss.  Is there such a thing as too much justice?  Too much hope?  Too much faith or hope?  Too much love?  Finding moderation and balance is a challenge; but our model is the Christ, who interchanged periods of heavy activity with times of prayer and retreat . . . leaving his sacred heart open to God’s plan.

By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by fear [love] of the Lord man avoids evil.

It is never too late to be open to a conversion of the heart.  There is always time to enter through the narrow gate, to step onto the narrow road, to sow peace rather than discord.  It is never too late to open the door and windows of the mind . . . to allow the master planner to enter the heart . . .  to move us through our days . . . to guide us in our thoughts . . . to thaw our stiffened necks . . . to melt our hardened hearts.

Let us vow today to open ourselves . . . to the mind of God . . . that we might receive our plans from God’s own sacred heart.

 

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Proverbs 10: Honesty, Discipline and Expansion

Sunday, July 30, 2017

God won’t starve an honest soul,
    but God frustrates the appetites of the wicked.

Sloth makes you poor;
    diligence brings wealth.

The writers of Proverbs focus on practical advice that speaks of life honestly.

Make hay while the sun shines—that’s smart;
    go fishing during harvest—that’s stupid.

Blessings accrue on a good and honest life,
    but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.

These verses point to truisms that make us smile.

Honesty lives confident and carefree,
    but Shifty is sure to be exposed.

An evasive eye is a sign of trouble ahead,
    but an open, face-to-face meeting results in peace.

These words remind us that discipline paves the way of a happy life.

The road to life is a disciplined life;
    ignore correction and you’re lost for good.

 Liars secretly hoard hatred;
    fools openly spread slander.

We remember that balance and compromise are basic elements of discipline.

The more talk, the less truth;
    the wise measure their words.

The speech of a good person is worth waiting for;
    the blabber of the wicked is worthless.

We reflect on our acts of kindness and realize that they return to us a hundred-fold.

God’s blessing makes life rich;
    nothing we do can improve on God.

The nightmares of the wicked come true;
    what the good people desire, they get.

When we are patient, forgiving, and open, we arrive at seeing the reality of the Kingdom.

When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked;
    good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.

The aspirations of good people end in celebration;
    the ambitions of bad people crash.

When we are faithful, hope-filled and loving, we join others who look for the expansion of the Kingdom.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore different translations of these verses, we begin to see that honesty and discipline bring about the expansion of the Kingdom.

 

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Proverbs 8: Armloads of Life

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wisdom and Creation, A Reprise

Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling?
    Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
    at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
    where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
    everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
    You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
    I’m telling you how to live at your best.

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before, and today we look at it again with fresh eyes as we consider . . . the gift of creation in each of us, and in the micro and macro-universe we inhabit. Today we reprise our reflection on the wisdom of God’s creation (https://thenoontimes.com/2013/09/07/wisdom-and-creation/) as we consider again the mystery of God’s love for us.

 I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.

These words are an invitation we will want to accept.

My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
    the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
    at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
    filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

The verses cited in this post are from the MESSAGE translation of Proverbs. To compare other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus.

To watch life on a reef off the Maldives, click on the sealife image or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1oGyZL0qjM

For an interesting take on the multiverse, click on the image of planets above, or visit: http://www.chattanoogapulse.com/columns/just-a-theory/living-your-life-in-a-multiverse/ 

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Judges 17: Reward in Due Season

Friday, June 23, 2017

We have just experienced the longest liturgical season of the year, Eastertide.  What will we do with the promise we have been given?  How have we examined ourselves during our Lenten desert passage, what do we do now that we have arrived at the empty tomb? How do we enact the promise of the resurrection?  Do we await the risen Christ who sits with us, dines with us, prays with us and heals us?  Do we take what we believe to be ours by force?  Or worse still, once we see that our apportioned lot has not yet arrived, will we take something from someone else as our determined recompense for what we see as an unjustified lack?  Do we allow our sense of entitlement to cause us to end our Easter joy a bit too soon?  Do we miss the risen Christ because we are busy elsewhere, making certain that “we get what is ours?”

Reward arrives in due season, when at its height to be savored best by those who wait on the Lord.  Humility and a right attitude about who we are in relation to God and to his creatures will discipline the willing heart.  The covenant is renewed.  We already have our reward, although we may not yet see it.  And so we pray for the wisdom to wait, the patience to discern, and the love to abide in Christ Jesus who walks and lives among us.  Rather than rush to the table to take our tribal place higher than what might be ours, let us await the beckoning of the king to seat us at our proper place for he is among us, and he loves us well.   We do best to wait on God’s will, rather than determine our own.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 16, 2009.

To explore different dimensions of humility, click on the image above, or visit: https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2014/11/04/what-are-different-dimensions-humility/

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Romans 5:1-5: Indwelling and Endurance

Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017

PENTECOST-

Jean Restout: Pentecost

With the indwelling of the Spirit, we know Christ more intimately.

Jesus Christ has brought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace, in which we now live.

Through the promise and gift of God’s grace, we live more fully.

And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory!

With the gift of life’s obstacles, we find our way to God through Christ.

We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and God’s approval creates hope.

With the transformation and peace of God’s wisdom, we become true disciples of Christ.

This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out God’s love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.

With persistence in faith, courage in hope, and charity in love, we come to understand the true gift of the Spirit’s indwelling.

When we spend time with these verses by reflecting on varying translations, we open ourselves to the Spirit’s indwelling, and we learn to endure in Christ.

For a slide show of Pentecost paintings, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/19/pentecost-in-art-paintings-stained-glass-windows-frescoes-and-more-photos_n_3303122.html?slideshow=true#gallery/298296/0

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Sirach 1:1-10: Length of DaysBritain Bible

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Law, the Prophets, and the later writers have left us a wealth of valuable teachings, and we should praise Israel for the instruction and wisdom they provide. (GNT)

When we look for advice during times or worry, there is always a place to turn.

Now, those who read the scriptures must not only themselves understand them, but must also as lovers of learning be able through the spoken and written word to help the outsiders. (NRSV)

When we search for a firm foundation on which to stand, there is always wisdom at our fingertips.

You are invited, therefore, to read with goodwill and attention and to be forgiving in cases where we seem less than perfect in translating some expressions, despite working hard on the translation. (CEB)

When we find that our burden is too heavy to carry, the Creator calls us in the enormity and passion of creation.

All wisdom is from the Lord
    and remains with him forever.

The sands of the sea, the drops of rain,
    the days of eternity—who can count them? (NABRE)

When we want to rejoice in the presence of the Lord, the universe shows us God’s power.

Heaven’s height, earth’s extent,
    the abyss and wisdom—who can explore them?

Before all other things wisdom was created;
    and prudent understanding, from eternity. (NABRE)

When we are ready to celebrate the endless compassion of God’s patience and wisdom, we assure ourselves of infinite happiness, delight and length of our days.

Love of the Lord warms the heart, giving gladness and joy and length of days.

When we compare different translations of these verses and reflect on wisdom we find, we open our hearts to happiness, peace and length of days.

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Jeremiah 17:5-10: In Every Season

Thursday, March 23, 2017

We are blessed with a God-given identity and we take our concerns to God the Creator. With gratitude, we trust in God.

I will bless the person
who puts his trust in me.
He is like a tree growing near a stream
and sending out roots to the water.
It is not afraid when hot weather comes,
because its leaves stay green;
it has no worries when there is no rain;
it keeps on bearing fruit. (GNT)

We are accompanied by our brother Jesus and we follow the clearly marked Way our brother Christ sets out for us. In hope, we follow the signs of Christ’s love.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit. (NRSV)

We are consoled by the Spirit who lives within us and we allow the presence of God to mend all that is broken. With love, we rest in this Spirit.

Blessed is the man who trusts in Adonai;
Adonai will be his security.
He will be like a tree planted near water;
it spreads out its roots by the river;
it does not notice when heat comes;
and its foliage is luxuriant;
it is not anxious in a year of drought
but keeps on yielding fruit. (CJB)

Can we imagine a life when all that we say and all we do is measured in the loving ways of God? Can we envision a kingdom in which the poor take precedence and the marginalized rise up? Can we foresee the effects of God’s compassion, power and tenderness?

After a long drought, the desert blooms in Arizona, U.S.A.

Blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
    the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
    putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
    never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
    bearing fresh fruit every season. (MSG)

Can we believe that we are part of God’s great plan? Can we rely on God’s wisdom, grace and peace? Can we be certain that we are loved and behave as if we accept this truth?

When we compare various translations of these verses, we begin to discover that we are blessed, that we are loved, and that we are created to bear fruit in every season – even in the deserts of our lives.

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Tobit 3:24-25: The Favor of Providence

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tobias_cura_a_cegueira_de_seu_pai_-_Domingos_Sequeira

Domingos Sequeira: Tobias Heals the Blindness of his father Tobit

As a Noontime companion, you will know that this book is a favorite. This story is full of fidelity, promise, hope, healing, courage, desperation, prayers answered and the mystery of how we gain most in ourselves by trusting God. The story tells us of the importance of the mystery of trust.  We see God move not only through the disguise of the archangel Rafael, but also through people who respond to God’s call . . . even when it places them in danger.

Today’s excerpt is brief but we gain much if we spend some of our time with these verses. They are a wonderful antidote for a dispirited day.  The story reminds us of all the Old Testament foretells, all the prophets predict, all the wisdom books proclaim, and all that Jesus comes to fulfill. We have valuable lessons here. On this second weekend of Lent, we serve ourselves well by reflecting with these verses and taking in their lessons.

First: Tobit shows us that God is good, and we are good. It also shows us that although life is brutal and unpredictable, it is good because it brings us to God.

Second: The faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God. We need to kill people with kindness, we need to make our hearts open and vulnerable to God, we must become Christ’s hands and feet, head and heart through the act of healing one another, and through the act of interceding for one another, even our enemies. 

Tomorrow, we discover how these lessons teach us the importance of the mystery of wisdom and trust. If we take an hour or so to read more than these verses this weekend, we will not regret our decision to use our time in this way.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.

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