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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


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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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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