“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire… You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5: 21-22, 27-28)
It is, perhaps, understandable that we feel shock and dismay, when we hear about the crimes of certain murderers or sex-offenders; and we might, understandably, scoff and jeer as we see a a school-shooter or, say, a Harvey Weinstien par...
“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him (more) will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” (Lk 8: 16-18)
It is important, the Lord is telling me here, not only “that” I hear His word, but “how” I hear it. Even when I don’t quite understand it, He calls me to patient and persistent exploration of His divine wisdom, in humble and prayerful teachability. “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed” to a heart mindful of God’s daily little revelations. Whoever “has” t...
“Above all who teach me have I gained understanding, for your testimonies are my meditation. Above my elders have I received understanding, for after your commandments have I sought.” (Ps 118/119: 99-100)
Aren’t these Psalm-verses shocking, in light of our Church’s understanding of “obedience,” I mean, to “teachers” and “elders”? Am I really supposed to gain/receive “understanding” beyond and “above all who teach me,” and “above my elders”?
Yes of course I am, eventually. Because that is the way we mature, in the circle of life. We are meant to mature and grow up, above and beyond our “teachers” and “elders.” They will die and pass on, but we will live on. We are never to disregard or dishonor them, but we are, nonetheless, meant to grow up and stand on our own two feet, in the light and in...
“For if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding; and if you seek it as silver, and search diligently for it as for treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; and from his presence come knowledge and understanding, and he treasures up salvation for them that walk uprightly: he will protect their way;” (Prov 2: 3-7)
Discernment. Wisdom. Knowledge. Understanding. Are these the things I’ve been searching for “diligently, …as for treasures”? At times, yes. But I need to be reminded, again and again, that these essential gifts, without which my life becomes utterly unmanageable, come from God. I must not only ask Him for them, but “cry out” for them when need be. Because I desperately need God t...
“…And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing… Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 2, 8-13)
“Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 8-13)
But what about unrequited love? Or some other unhappy, or ambivalent, or misunderstood-in-some-way love? Is the Apostle also talking about the “messy“ cases of human love?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Prov 3: 5-6)
So what does this mean in practical terms? Can I “simply” trust in the Lord and “not lean on my own understanding,” when faced with daily choices and decisions? How does this work?
It works by “acknowledging Him in all my ways,” that is to say, by acknowledging the paths the Lord is actually “making straight” before me, rather than the ones I might prefer or would like to imagine. Otherwise, if I “lean on my own understanding,” I often find myself behaving like a person in a room with two doors, one wide open and one closed, who keeps staring at the closed one, wishing it would open.
“…and when they (Mary and Joseph) did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’ And he said to them, ‘How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (Lk 2: 45-51)