St. Michael’s Church, Friborg
The evangelical pastor Olivier Fasel, from the book of Wisdom – Sg 9, 13-18
This first reading is taken from the book of Wisdom, a book that the Protestant Bibles do not retain, because it would not have been written in Hebrew, it is only found in Greek. Our passage, however, poses a question that preoccupies many other Hebrew authors: Who can understand God’s will, intentions, purpose?
Indeed, if God himself did not reveal his intentions to us; if God did not reveal himself (and we can understand his incarnation here, it is Jesus Christ Word of God), we would then remain in the fragile ignorance of a human being crossed by a thousand confused thoughts, in a thousand languages approximate.
You will have remembered it: Hebrew, Greek, French, German, Latin…. we need a universal language to say what is most subtle in the emotions and in the religious sentiment; to discover, as expressed in our first reading, the intentions of God, to conceive and express the unspeakable!
An author wrote, in English (!), of his admiration and confidence in the languages of artists. He sees in it (I quote) “the avenues that lead to the heart of a reality that one cannot see and even less grasp, in another mode” (end of quote).
This author goes on to explain that all forms of art are like indicators capable of directing us towards more life, more joy, more confidence. The world, according to him, is broken, damaged. We can even say that the world is unfinished. The arts thus have their share of “redemptive spirituality”, in that they express a search, a quest for meaning, for something else, beyond appearances.
The arts question us, these questions that awaken. There is in the breath of the organ, a source of celestial inspiration. There is in the vibration of the vocal cords, a quivering from beyond. There is in the resonances of woodwinds, strings and winds, a call for more joy, more justice, more meaning, more beauty.
May wisdom then lead us to it, or at least make us aware of it. And as our reading expresses it very well, which I paraphrase to turn it into a prayer: Give us wisdom yourself, send your Holy Spirit from on high. Amen
The Catholic deacon Bertrand Georges, from Psalm 89 (90)
Dear brothers and sisters, Psalm 89 shows us a wise man, imbued with the Scriptures, meditating on human frailty and the brevity of life. This awareness of the transience of time, of the fact that in the eyes of God a day is like a thousand years, and that the life of man can be compared to the changing grass which blooms in the morning and finds itself withered when evening comes, that is Wisdom, this psalm tells us.
Each of us, on the occasion of a milestone or seeing our strength diminish, has felt at one time or another a vertigo in the face of the inexorable flight of time. However, the security offered by the conveniences of the time does not promote awareness of our fragility and the transient nature of life on earth.
These last decades have indeed been swept away in a surge of optimism which believed that man would be self-sufficient. A certain well-being, the lessons of history, or even scientific, medical or technical progress promised us to overcome all the misfortunes that strike humanity. Thus, the feeling of vulnerability which hollowed out, in previous generations, a desire for liberation or fullness hoped for in the hereafter, tends to disappear in favor of a quest for immediate happiness.
It’s normal that we look for our happiness in things down here. The problem is when we are satisfied with it, when this quest for ephemeral things absorbs all our energy, when we live as if we were alone in the world. And then one day, adversity, personal or collective, reminds us of our vulnerability. The period of multiple crises that we are going through shows us that ultimately, no guarantee or life insurance cannot free us from our status as sons and daughters of Adam. What to do then? Are we somehow doomed to suffer our life while waiting for it to pass? Fortunately, it is not. This psalm teaches us that, far from discouraging us, the awareness of the precariousness of life may help us to live better.
It is again the psalmist who opens a way for us: “Come back, Lord, why delay?” he begs in his fervent prayer. But, brothers and sisters, is it really God who distances himself from man? Wouldn’t it be us who sometimes live as if he didn’t exist? Perhaps in a moment of reverence we could hear God say to us, “Come back to me, my son, my beloved daughter, why delay?” Saint Augustine, before his conversion, also heard this call resound in his heart. And he asks himself: “For how much longer will I say: tomorrow, tomorrow? Why not now? Why wouldn’t this very moment mark the end of my sad and useless life away from God? From the moment we offer this openness to God, the awareness of our precariousness is no longer an obstacle, but, on the contrary, a condition of our realization.
It is indeed from our poverty that we can welcome the fullness of the gift of God who wants to satiate us with his love from the morning, fill our days with joy and songs and clothe us with the sweetness of his Name. Finally, this Psalm reveals to us that the work of man on this earth becomes a common work with God who gives gives it solidity and fruitfulness. Yes Lord, consolidate for us the work of our hands! God and us, partners of Alliance for the success of our life, for today and for eternity, it is perhaps there, dear brothers and sisters, that the wisdom and the true greatness of the man reside .
Reformed pastor Débora Kapp, from the Gospel according to Saint Luke – Lk 14, 25-33
What words! Jesus does not mince his words. His words can be heard, not without irritation. To believe that he “is looking for us”. And he seeks us where it hurts. The fact that he himself is on his way to Jerusalem, the place of his cross, has something to do with it… Carrying his cross, he tells us.
The words of Jesus specify what it is to be, or rather what it is to become, his disciple. To be a disciple is literally to be a learner. Learn from him. According to him. By him. In him. It is a movement. It’s never over. There are areas of our lives where we never stop learning. Artists know this well, thinkers too.
Learning and going from one beginning to another. This idea comes up often here: to begin… by sitting down, to begin to build, to begin to separate, to detach oneself… The words of Jesus, such as Luke gives them form to us, repeat it to us: to begin with Jesus has its requirements. It’s not so much a requirement of willpower. Nor is it a state of mind, an impulse. It is a progressive, slow and paradoxical awareness.
In this apprenticeship, in this weaving of apprentices, Jesus raises the question of preference. There is, alas, a way to love badly, including our closest, our most loved ones, including ourselves. Of this we know something. Yes, the desire to love is powerful in us. But ambivalent. And sometimes destructive. It’s not about giving up love. But in a certain way of loving. Quickly said. He opens a way. What’s next? So goes the path of the learner.
As large crowds press behind Jesus, we find ourselves at a constant crossroads: with Jesus, continue, near or far, or leave it at that? This choice often crosses our path as a learner. Basically, why do we remain its learners, its journeys?
°Perhaps because Jesus unceremoniously unveils our decoys. His lucidity is necessary for us. As uncomfortable as it is. It’s not enough. We are not masochists.
°Perhaps because Jesus opens a path of other wisdom that loves us. A path made up of always possible beginnings. Whoever says beginning says otherwise detachment, renunciation, preference, priority.
A path of beginnings made up of many discoveries on the art of loving, on the strength of giving, including of oneself, on the joy of listening and on the peace that comes from the possibility of being available and to serve. Sometimes the path begins with just stopping and sitting down, as we do now. Sit down to collect a few notes, a few words, a momentum. And then will come the time to get up and continue, together or alone, a bit of a journey with this Master of wisdom and other life. Amen
© Catholic Media Center Cath-Info, 04.09.2022
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