I hope through this mini-tribute to
my parents you can see the need for the Spirit in both forms—Truth and Wisdom.
It reminds me of the beautiful image from Psalm 85, verse 11: “Kindness and
truth shall meet, justice and peace will kiss.”
In this era of fake news and
bold-faced lying, seeking the Truth is essential. But Wisdom is needed as well.
The truth does not need to hurt; social justice does not always need to become
social judgment and condemnation. Kindness and peace can reign as well. Consider
this when you are faced with difficult situations: “What would the Spirit
of Truth have me do? How would the Spirit of Wisdom guide my words and
“We cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found
with our ministry;"
(2 Cor 6:1-10)
When I first read this, I
thought it sounded self-serving. Paul seems to be concerned that his ministry
not be blamed for anyone messing up. Upon reflection, I thought about my own
ministry and how often I am tempted to impose my thinking, my own way of doing
things on those to whom I minister. When I take this stance with the other, it
often fails. They are likely to stumble, not because my intent is bad, but
because I am looking at things through my eyes and my experience, and not with
the eyes of the one I am serving. If we are true channels for the Spirit and
recognize the God already present within the other, we can rest assured our
ministry will not cause them to stumble, but that God will lead them as they
need to be led.
“Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on
the just and the unjust.”
Oooh, this is one of
those big problems for us, isn’t it? God has told us many times his ways are not
our ways, that he is not like us, but it stills gets under our skin that those
we consider “bad” often get off scot-free. We hope that, in the immortal words
of Groucho Marx, “time wounds all heels.” Like Jonah and Jeremiah we ask
to see God’s vengeance on those who have hurt us or that we deem as sinners.
What would it be like if we did indeed pray—sincerely-- for those who persecute
us, for those whose political stance is abhorrent to us? Might our own
countenance be more like that of God’s? Might we find peace for ourselves and
“Whoever sows sparingly will
also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
(2 Cor 9:6-11)
each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
(Robert Louis Stevenson)
“…And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”(Mt
Boy, is this timely!
Pope Francis recently approved a change to the words Roman Catholics use to pray
the “Our Father.” He suggests a more accurate translation: “Do
not let us fall into temptation."
He says. "A father doesn’t (lead you into temptation); a father helps you to
get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his
department." Here’s what I found in some of the sources I use: In David
Bentley Hart’s literal translation: “And do not bring us to trial, but
rescue us from him who is wicked.” From Scrivener’s Greek Textus Receptus:
“Do not bring us to trial, but rescue us from the wicked one.” From N.T.
Wright’s contemporary translation: “Don’t bring us into the great trial, but
rescue us from evil.” The use of “leading us into temptation” goes
back to the Hebrew Scriptures when God would test people (e.g., Abraham) to see
if their faith was strong. God is our strength when our flesh is willing but our
spirit is weak. God knows we will be tested and is there to rescue us when we
inevitably fail. That’s the most important thing to remember!
“For where your treasure
is, there also will your heart be.”
(Mt 6: 19-23)
This is a familiar, oft-quoted line
from Scripture. We review in our minds all the things we treasure: faith,
family, health, and friends. Of course, our hearts are there also. Or are they?
I think this passage is more challenging if we flip it around: “Where your heart
is, there also will be your treasure.” We may say we treasure the gift of faith,
but approach God half-heartedly. We know deep inside we treasure our families
and our health, but instead work ourselves so hard, believing “we are what we
provide,” or needing to feed our egos through accomplishments. Take a good look
at where your heart is today. Does it match what you claim to treasure? This is
a good awareness exercise you can do every day.
“’My grace is sufficient
for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I am content with
weaknesses …for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Cor 12:1-10)
I recall being on retreat
many years ago and praying to God about a few personality traits—thorns in my
side—that I would like to have him eliminate from my repertoire (we won’t go
into them now, but suffice it to say they are still with me!) As I prayed, I
realized I was, in effect, asking God to take away some of my humanity, some of
what brings me to my knees seeking his mercy and love. Paul’s words echoed in my
heart: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses in order that the
power of Christ may dwell in me!” Pray with these wise words if you struggle
with some particularly thorny traits. “Alleluia: We are inadequate!”