Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


Monday, March 16, 2020

Matthew 26:69-75: Peter

Caravaggio: Peter's Denial

Caravaggio: Peter’s Denial

You too were with the Galilean. 

The gift of courage is needed to speak as the Gospel calls us.  The gift of endurance carries us through dark nights when we doubt that we can live up to the hope God has placed in us.  The gift of discernment aides us in distinguishing rumor from truth.  The gift of patience empowers us to wait upon Wisdom.  The gift of faith protects us from our fears.  The gift of compassion shields us from hatred and vengeance.  The gift of serenity forestalls anger.  The gift of love teaches us that the Spirit abides.

He went out and he began to weep bitterly.

One of the wonderful results of reading this story is that we see Peter, the rock upon which Christ builds God’s church, finds his circumstances overwhelming.  There are times during Lent when we turn inward to take an honest assessment of ourselves when we may be overcome with a strong negative emotion that drives us away from all we believe.  When this happens we ought to remember Peter.

The death of someone dear, the loss of a treasured job, the end of a cherished relationship . . . these ordinary life experiences become huge to us and they cut too close.  Fear closes in, anger erupts, or depression and a sense of hopelessness take over.  We experience a roller coaster of emotion and want nothing more than to collapse into some safe harbor where we can refuge until we recover.

We are called to speak out but we are too frightened.  We are asked to join a Gospel cause in solidarity and we politely decline.  Our colleagues ask us to join them as they take a risk for the common good.  A family member asks us to help with an overdue intervention.  We ignore addictions and bad behavior.  We look away when we ought to look closely.  We preserve ourselves when we ought to be working to preserve the kingdom.

Peter was called to great heights and turned away; but later in this same story when Christ asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter responds quickly, passionately and with no shadow of embarrassment or reluctance.

Peter tells us that each of us will fail at one time or another.  Peter tells us that we will weep bitterly.  And Peter tells us that there is always an opportunity to turn and return to God.


To read about Peter’s return, go to John 21:15-19.

A re-post from March 16, 2013. 

Image from: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo_deny.html

Read Full Post »


Friday, March 6, 2020

Hosea 10:11-15: Time to Seek the Lord

morning-dew-fresh-christ-manna-1024x768[1]Ephraim . . . Judah . . . sons of Jacob . . . tribes of Israel . . . northern and southern kingdoms.  Paganism . . . a Covenant relationship with the one true God . . . Infidelity . . . Constancy . . . Pleasure . . . Joy.  Exile . . . Return . . . Repentance . . . Restoration . . . Turmoil . . . Order . . . Chaos . . . Light.

We have seen these words . . . heard these themes . . . so many times . . . yet eye has not seen . . . ear has not heard . . . what God has in mind for us. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Hosea follows the will of God and marries the harlot Gomer.  His hope is that she will reform.  She does not.  He calls her to love . . . she turns away.  He persists . . . she will return . . . one day . . .

The offenses of Israel are grave and great, almost too much to bear.  And so we look to the end of the story to peek at the outcome.  Looking at the last lines of Hosea’s prophecy:  I will heal their defection; I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them.  I will be like the dew of Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots.  His splendor shall be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.  Again they shall dwell in the shade and raise grain; they shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.  Ephraim!  What more has he to do with idols?  I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.  “I am like a verdant cypress tree” – Because of me you bear fruit!  Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them.  Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.  (14:5-10)

Lily Five[1]Dear Jesus,

We stumble so frequently yet we turn and return.

We seek your path,

We call on your wisdom, we ask for prudence, courage, fortitude, patience.

We know your ways and your statutes.  We know that you await us.

We see these things, we hear these words, we rely on your constancy and your promise.

We look for the harvest, we look for the shade in the noonday sun.

We seek conversion and transformation.

We seek the Lord.

 Amen.


1 Corinthians 2:9: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard by Marty Haugen video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRyOS0nZr7s

For more thoughts on seeking, go to the God Time page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/god-time/

Images from: http://www.agodman.com/blog/enjoying-the-dew-and-the-manna-from-the-lord-to-be-revived-every-morning/ and http://theverticall.blogspot.com/2010/06/dew-to-israel.html

Written on January 31, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Read Full Post »


Tuesday, February 25, 2020: Sirach 8 & 9Part III

A Prayer for Friends and Friendship

friendship013[1]The wisdom of Proverbs and Sirach may be dismissed as childish or old-fashioned, but this week we have seen the depth and breadth of their astuteness and their keen understanding of human nature.  Today we see these verses as a welcome counterpoint to the material world and its headlong rush to acquire all that is new; we strive to keep all things in balance: Spurn not the discourse of the wise, but acquaint yourself with their proverbs; from them you will acquire the training to serve you in the presence of princes.  Reject not the wisdom of the old ones which they have learned from their elders; from it you will obtain the knowledge how to answer in time of need. (Sirach 8:8-9)

In our modern age of hyper-communication we might draw into ourselves in fear as we hear constant news of conflict and violence.  We may be tempted to look at all that is wrong and forget to look for all that is right with the world.  Anxiety may outweigh optimism.  Fear may trump trust.  Self-protection and avoidance of vulnerability may outweigh our courage to enter into friendship with sincerity and integrity.  If this is so, and if the familiar stories in scripture do not inspire us, we will want to return to the wisdom captured by Jesus ben Sirach, for he has much to offer us.

And so we pray in gratefulness for our true friends and in thanksgiving for the presence of Christ in our lives . . .

Good and gracious God, I thank you for the true friendship you have shared with me in the person of my friends.  Keep me ever aware of their value.  Remind me to thank them often.  Guide me in returning their nurturing care of my humanity.  Help me to recognize their divinity, just as these true friends affirm my divinity when I reflect you to them.  Thank you for adopting me as your daughter.  Remind me often that I am a citizen of the next world rather than one of this.  Give me the patience to wait while the wine of relationships ages.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the friendship of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Let us give thanks today for the gift of friendship.


Image from: http://www.cherrybam.com/friendship-quotes.php

For more wisdom from this text, type the “Sirach” into the blog search box and choose a reflection.   

Read Full Post »


Saturday, February 23, 2020

Sirach 8 & 9Part I

Staying Within our Means

article-new_ehow_images_a05_rc_gs_seed-money-inventors-800x800[1]We have been visiting with the Book of Sirach all week.  Today and tomorrow we will want to spend time with Chapters 8 and 9 and think about how we spend our fiscal, physical and spiritual cash.  We will want to ask ourselves if and how and even why we will want to stay within our means.

Many hurdles in life are too big for us to handle.  We live in a society that tells us that we can do anything once we put our minds to it; but this is not true.  We must recognize the limits with which we are born, assess our strengths, find our best talents and gifts, and use them well.  This is also true of our spirituality.  We are each endowed with a God-center in our brains which scientists have seen activated in meditating monks and nuns with brain scans.  And each of these God-centers is likely to be as different as our physical being.  It follows, then, that some of us feel more keenly the desire to seek God than others.  I am guessing that some may not feel this desire at all . . . and these are people whom only God can reach.  It is for these wounded souls that I pray each day.

Sirach urges us to steer clear of the quickly angry, the powerful, influential and rich.  Kindle not the coals of a sinner, lest you be consumed in his blazing fire . . . Provoke no quarrel with a quick-tempered man, nor ride with him through the desert; for bloodshed is nothing to him, and when there is no to help you, he will destroy you.  For my part, these words ring true.

In Chapter 9 we read more advice about becoming ensnared in matters which will take us beyond our own control mechanism.  We are asked, in other words, to know and understand our weaknesses and strengths . . . to go not surety beyond our means (verse 8:13)  . . . to exercise restraint where we know we have no strength . . . to take God with us everywhere we go . . . to include God in every relationship we enter.

This is the challenge we offer ourselves today as we continue our Lenten journey.


Image from: http://www.ehow.com/how_6140444_seed-money-inventors.html

Tomorrow – The Measure of Friends

Read Full Post »


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Ezekiel 1: Cherubim

The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant

We have frequently looked at the Cherubim in our Noontimes in connection with the opening nine chapters of the Book of Wisdom and we have reflected that these Cherubim are Wisdom, living close by God but calling to us to sit in praise of God . . . for this is where Wisdom finds her most comfortable nest.

When we look at this opening chapter of Ezekiel, we see that God sits on a throne carried by winged Cherubim.  To read more about the mythological and physical origin of these creatures we can go to: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/cherubim.html  or to http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03646c.htm .

Creatures that live this close to God must be special indeed; yet these beings are no more important to God than each of us.  If we might think about being as close to God as the Cherubim, if we might create an image of the power needed to pull any chariot large enough to encompass our God, if we can imagine the magnitude of wisdom that these creatures symbolize . . . we are well on our way to comprehending the love that God has for us.

As the NEW ADVENT website points out, to Catholics these creatures are more than symbolic.  They are ministers who have an intimate and intense understanding of who God is and how he moves in our lives.  In the fullness of this knowledge they have become “sublime hosts” to God’s presence.

We see these creatures again in Revelation and still they have their fantastic and unique place in God’s kingdom, they are the wheels of God, the wisdom with which and through which God operates.  They are in constant praise of God, and they continually glory in his being and presence.

We might put ourselves in the place of these creatures for a few moments today and we might contemplate our own imagery of wisdom.  What is it exactly?  How does it operate?  Where does it take us?  To what does it call us?  Why do we seek it?

And then we might sit with these verses for a while to meditate on them and on what drives our own lives: Wherever the spirit wished to go, there the wheels went . . . such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. 


Image from: http://www.crystalinks.com/ark.html

For written on March 4, 2010. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Enter the word Cherubim in the blog search box to read more about these amazing creatures and Wisdom.

Read Full Post »


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/

Read Full Post »


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/

Read Full Post »


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.

Read Full Post »


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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: