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Monday, July 9, 2018

     “And coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.’ And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” (Mt 13: 54-58)

     Why do we tend not to “believe” in the extraordinary gifts of one of “our own”? I think, for three reasons: 1. Familiarity, 2. Collective self-loathing, and 3. Jealousy. First of all, we...

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

     “Another parable he put before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into...

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

     “A foolish woman is noisy; she is wanton and knows no shame. She sits at the door of her house, she takes a seat on the high places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ And to him who is without sense she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Prov 9: 13-18)

     Here, at the end of Chapter 9 of Proverbs, “foolishness” or “folly” is personified as a woman, – just as the opposite of “foolishness,” that is, “wisdom,” is also personified as a woman, at the beginning of this same chapter, – to put our p.c.-sensitivities to rest. “Foolishness” can also be defined as “sin” in genera...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

“…Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you; understanding will guard you…” (Prov 2: 3-11)

This passage from Proverbs will be read at today’s Vespers, celebrated together with the first (of this L...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

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...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

But the righteous man, though he die early, will be at rest. For old age is not honored for length of time, nor measured by number of years; but understanding is gray hair for men, and a blameless life is ripe old age. There was one who pleased God and was loved by him. He was taken up, lest evil change his understanding or guile deceive his soul. For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind. Being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore he took him quickly from the midst of wickedness. Yet the peoples saw and did not understand, nor take such a thing to heart, that God’s grace and mercy are with his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.” (Wisdom of Solomon 4: 7-15)

The...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, ‘We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her children.’ Then he began to upbraid the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.” (Mt 11: 16-20)

True, divine “wisdom” can speak to me in various, sometimes unexpected forms and styles. It could be, for example, in music (“We piped to you…”), – of the upbeat kind meant for dancing (“…and you did not dance”), or of the...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

 

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew. My son, let them not depart from your eyes — keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Prov 3: 19-26)

 

Let it not be said that “existential angst” was discovered by the modern-day. This ancient text knows all about it. And what is the antidote to it? God’s wisd...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

“In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night: and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give you.” (And Solomon replies:) “…Give…your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad…’ And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.” (1 Kings 3:5, 9-10)

 

Of all the things King Solomon could have asked for, he asks for “this thing” that is wisdom; that is, “discernment between good and bad.” What is remarkable to me in this well-known passage is not primarily that the young Solomon (who was just a boy at the time) valued wisdom above all things, but that he recognized that it is a gift from God.

 

So – I need to ask God for “wisdom” or “discernment.” And I must say, as I get older, I increasingly see the need for it in my own...

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