all this talk of Wisdom playing and God delighting in her, I can’t resist the
humor in this translation of verse 26: Wisdom preceded the hills and fields and
”the first clods of the world!” (The Hebrew word is “aphar” which means loose
earth or soil.) Wisdom outpaces most of us “clods of the world” even still!
author of Proverbs presents Wisdom in a fresh, wonderful way. When we hear the
word “wise” used to describe a person, we tend to think of someone older,
learned, but perhaps a bit stodgy; gentle, but calm and reserved. Wisdom—the
Spirit of God—is portrayed in Scripture as a woman there before time, and with
God forming the heavens and earth. Wisdom is creative and unencumbered. She
recognizes the fullness of creation and delights in the wonder of earth and its
inhabitants. Unlike the way women are portrayed in other parts of Scripture (and
unfortunately still viewed by some of the more “cloddish” among us), Wisdom is
the breath and freeing Spirit of God.
God knows…we need her today more than ever.
We would all do well
to take a lesson from Wisdom. Amid our world of “can’ts” and don’ts,” and “have
tos” and “shoulds”…when was the last time you allowed yourself to be truly
delighted by God’s creation? Spend time this week unencumbered by the
ever-present to-do list. Delight in God and God’s world as God delights in you.
May 27: To the
penitent, God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope…
(Sir 17: 20-24)
(In the Catholic Lectionary, we
continue the OT readings from Sirach. I encourage you to spend time with this
wonderful book, even if it’s not part of your standard readings.) I love the
image of God providing “a way back” to those sorry for their sins. But I also
love the idea that God encourages those losing hope to move forward. This is
wise advice. In order to move ahead with our lives, we often have to go back,
to be forgiven or to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us. There’s an
expression, “There’s no future in the past.” This is true if we cannot learn
from and let go of what has passed. Are there things you’re holding onto? Go
back to God. It’s the only way to move forward.
May 28: Offer to God
praise as your sacrifice…He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me.
What does it mean to offer praise as
sacrifice? I guess missing an event in favor of attending church could be
considered a sacrifice, but I don’t think that’s it. To offer praise as
sacrifice means we recognize the power of God in our lives. We sacrifice our
smallness, our egos, our desire to control every detail in deference to God’s
majesty. Ideally, we do this not in resignation but with great joy. We revel in
our weakness and rejoice in our dependence on the Most High. Offer true praise
to God today. “Halleluiah, we are inadequate!”
May 29: Give new
signs and work new wonders. (Sir 361-17) “the Son
of Man… will be handed over to the Gentiles who will…put him to death, but after
three days he will rise.” (Mk 10: 32-45)
We always want God to give us signs
and work wonders, but usually according to our terms. For Jesus’ disciples, the
signs and wonders they envision are quite different from what Jesus describes.
We might have in mind wonders we’d like to see. Or perhaps we try to read the
signs to support our worldview. We are wise to remember God’s ways are not our
ways. What might appear tragic opens the door to resurrection. Be aware of the
signs around you, even if they don’t match your expectations. Be open to the
wonders of God’s way.
May 30: How
beautiful are all his works! The universe lives and abides… to meet each need,
each creature is preserved. All of them differ, one from another, yet none of
them has he made in vain; for each in turn is good.
In my parenting workshops, I advise
parents to think of their kids as unique, not special. As anthropologist
Margaret Mead tells us, each of us is unique—just like everyone else! The word
“special” conveys that one is set apart from the rest. We don’t help our
children’s development or self-image—even those have real, diagnosed special
needs—if we are too focused on what sets them apart rather than on the unique
gifts God has given them for the good of others. Ben Sira reminds us nothing in
God’s creation has been made in vain. All is good. Can you imagine how wonderful
our outlook might be if we really looked at creation this way?
May 31: “Brothers
and sisters: Let love be sincere… anticipate one another in showing honor.”
In the Catholic tradition, today is
the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth who has conceived a child late
in life. Mary, pregnant herself, learns of Elizabeth’s condition and travels a
distance to support her cousin. She anticipates Elizabeth’s needs and honors
them. I love Paul’s words here, to “anticipate one another.” Most of us go
through our days locked in our own world, unaware of others. We may be on our
guard, but rarely do we anticipate with honor the needs of those around us. If
there’s one lesson I hope I’ve imparted to my children, it’s that “everyone has
their story.” Today, be like Mary. Learn the story of another. Anticipate their
needs and honor them. Love sincerely.
Jun 1: The elders
approached him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things?
I see the elders after this exchange
with Jesus cursing under their breath at being ensnared by their own trap.
They’re aghast at the audacity of this carpenter from Nazareth. They’re not
accustomed to being confronted and questioned like this and are enraged at such
disrespect. But the truth will not be suppressed. Don’t be afraid to speak the
truth or challenge the elders. Listen to Wisdom. Let her be your authority and