Speak Lord: Loving Wisdom

 

DSC03421c spirit nazareth

Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen,
and found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.

First reading for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 6:12-16

We who so often get things wrong, who are too often lazy or selfish (like the bridesmaids in today’s Gospel?) are not left to our own devices. It might be better if we had recourse to God’s Wisdom first, but when things are messed up is not too late to seek her and ask for help.

And maybe by then experienced in the consequences of the mess we make we might ask for that help not just for our sake, but also for those others we may have hurt…

Wisdom is there and Wisdom’s love is for us, for all. Seek her, share her…

  • Where/when did you last mess up?
  • Why?
  • What comes next?

Stained Glass. Basilica of the Annuniciation, Nazareth. (c0 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Love, only love

Sacred Heart, Colombiers II.jpg

We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity: not a philosophy of our age, it is true, still less of the masters of our age, which are coming to their end. The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began.

It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; we teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.

These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.

1 Corinthians 2:6-10

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 6th Sunday  in Ordinary Time, is packed with pungent Pauline ironies.

Who are those who have reached maturity? Surely not those who think they have reached it. How might we define maturity? In terms of  intellectual rigour? Well again and again, we see the ‘wise’ stumble because of their emotional immaturity. In terms of accumulated years? Well, just look at the incapacties aged brings! In terms of financial, life-style, security? Just a blip in the stock market or a change in government policy and we find ourselves exposed and on the rocks. All can seem acheived, mature, well,… until it isn’t!

And what is wisdom? The teachings of books; the cany of argument and rhetoric? Our acheivement, what we struggle to with great effort? No it is what God has thought, what God has intended before we ever began.

Paul speaks of maturity gifted by our receiveing and being sustained by what is at the heart of everything. And that, simply, is the love that is God and that is ours when we stop struggling and allow ourselves to be drawn into the current of that love that tears down and builds, that cherishes and trains, that allows us to lose ourselves and find ourselves, brought to wholeness in him.

  • What false wisdom do you hold onto?
  • What new security does the Gospel call you to?

Stained glass. Colombiers, Beziers, France. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: wisely, lovingly

COme Holy Spirit.jpg

The first reading at Mass today, the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, presents us with a paradox.

We can know nothing of what God wills/we know what God wills. What spans the gap is that God reveals his will, shares with us his wisdom.

What man indeed can know the intentions of God?
Who can divine the will of the Lord?
The reasonings of mortals are unsure
and our intentions unstable;
for a perishable body presses down the soul,
and this tent of clay weighs down the teeming mind.
It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth,
laborious to know what lies within our reach;
who, then, can discover what is in the heavens?
As for your intention, who could have learnt it, had you not granted Wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from above?
Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened
and men been taught what pleases you,
and saved, by Wisdom.

Wisdom 9:13-18

 

But what has God taught us? Commandments that you shall do this, and shall not do that? Useful, but far from sufficient. Even with the teasing out of law in Torah, there often does not seem to be law for this or that situation.

One of the difficulties Jesus faced is that he offered a different reading of the Law. So different he was condemned for breaking the Law. The most faithful was accused of being unfaithful!

Something of that experience has been there for good Christians ever since. And in our day too, we struggle to be faithful but again and again the proffered summations of faith and morals can regularly seem to lead us away from God.

The test must be in the experience: in trying to do the best, guided by tradition, and sustained in lived relationship with the Lord. Evaluated by careful discernment – is this right, how do I know? And that evaluation conducted humbly, not for self-justification, but ready as a child of God to admit fault, failing, and be ready to admit mistakes, foolishness: ready, too, to be forgiven and guided afresh – by the loving God – to more faithful kingdom living…

Image of Holy Spirit. Medjugorje. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

 

 

Speak Lord: In wisdom and joy

Trinity, Russia Museum

The First reading at Mass today, Trinity Sunday, comes from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. It is one of those passages from the Jewish Scriptures where there is a certain openness to differentiation within the Divine, the One God. The language resonates with the later Christian language of Word, Logos, to describe the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son.

In both cases, Wisdom, Logos/Son, the language points us beyond what we can easily say of God and still talk of the unity of God. The scripture, the doctrine of Trinity help us dimly discern a way into the more that revelation and experience require us to engage with as we respond to the awesome Mystery of God, and God’s engagement with us.

The Wisdom of God cries aloud:

The Lord created me when his purpose first unfolded,
before the oldest of his works.
From everlasting I was firmly set,
from the beginning, before earth came into being.
The deep was not, when I was born,
there were no springs to gush with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
before the hills, I came to birth;
before he made the earth, the countryside,
or the first grains of the world’s dust.
When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there,
when he drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
when he thickened the clouds above,
when he fixed fast the springs of the deep,
when he assigned the sea its boundaries
– and the waters will not invade the shore –
when he laid down the foundations of the earth,
I was by his side, a master craftsman,
delighting him day after day,
ever at play in his presence,
at play everywhere in his world,
delighting to be with the sons of men.

Proverbs 8:22-31

Wisdom speaks of God’s joy and delight in her presence and Wisdom’s own delight to be with humankind.

  • What gives you joy?
  • What difference does joy make to your life and your relationship with God and neighbour.

Icon of the Trinity. Russian Museum, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: of wisdom and life

Family

The First reading at Mass today, the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, comes from the book of Wisdom. It offers a relatively unusual, and refreshing, opportunity to hear the feminine pronoun used in proliferation in our Liturgy of the Word.

The usage may be prompted by a feminised personification of an attribute of God, rather than a woman, per se, but it is welcome all the same.

I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones;
compared with her, I held riches as nothing.
I reckoned no priceless stone to be her peer,
for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand,
and beside her silver ranks as mud.
I loved her more than health or beauty,
preferred her to the light,
since her radiance never sleeps.
In her company all good things came to me,
at her hands riches not to be numbered.
Wisdom 7:7-11

In our days when women of this generation, in the UK, have the opportunity of ‘competing’ (more or less equally) with men for places of power, the metaphor of Lady Wisdom may not work as well as it did. It may not be as culturally challenging, ‘woman’ is no longer in quite the striking opposition/tension to ‘man’ as once it was. (Though the qualifications in the first sentence of this paragraph remind of how much still waits to be realised before there is real equality of opportunity for women even in our time.)

Lady Wisdom was first set before (mostly) men as a challenge to the choices they made from all the opportunities available to them – exhorting them, if they wished to be faithful, to make healthy and loving, life-giving and life-sharing, choices.

If now those same choices must be made equally by men and women maybe that’s the price of progress. And maybe word ‘progress’ can be read without irony when, with God’s help (and under the inspiration offered by Lady Wisdom), we make wise choices.

  • Pray for wisdom – for you and yours
  • Pray for justice and equal opportunities for all
  • Pray for the Synod on Family life and mission

Photograph of carving of a family from the Cairo Museum. The man is ‘disabled’, but (not least because of the woman) the family seems mighty fine! (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: That we may remember

Jesus in the Temple, Apparitions Hill

The psalm at Sunday’s Mass urges us to pay attention to the Lord’s teaching and, once more be helped by him, to understand the meaning of what has gone before us.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

Give heed, my people, to my teaching;
turn your ear to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable
and reveal hidden lessons of the past.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

When he slew them then they would seek him,
return and seek him in earnest.
They would remember that God was their rock,
God the Most High their redeemer.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

But the words they spoke were mere flattery;
they lied to him with their lips.
For their hearts were not truly with him;
they were not faithful to his covenant.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

Yet he who is full of compassion
forgave them their sin and spared them.
So often he held back his anger
when he might have stirred up his rage.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

Psalm 77:1-2,34-38

One of the most difficult things for people to deal with seems to be the ravaging effects of Alzheimers on a loved one’s ability to communicate and be communicated with. The loss of memory seems to bring about loss of the person and, in many ways, loss of  our relationship with them.

We are urged to live for today – to live well and lovingly for today. But if, today, we have lost touch with our yesterdays, and the people we have shared them with, there seems a huge amount missing. Our ability to live today well is compromised.

This is not only so for individuals, but for institutions too. In our much more mobile and transient society ‘institutional memory’ is regularly put in jeopardy. When such memory is lost, subsequent change is often made without benefit of wisdom. Then in the changes made we risk losing the institutional ‘form’ and ‘substance’ which bear great symbolic value, and are a repositories of the wisdom of years.

The Tradition is an important dimension of Church life. It is part of what helps us keep faithful, safe (or relatively safe) from the whims of a moment.

The psalmist urges – never forget the deeds of the Lord.

  • Which of his deeds do you most easily remember?
  • What do they teach you about how you are to live and love today?

Photograph of Jesus in the Temple – an interrogation of Tradition! A meditation plaque on the Hill of Apparitions in Medjugorje. (c) Allen Morris, 2014.