Branching-Out

Stress Relief

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 21, 2020 6:00:00 AM

For many reasons, it is easy to feel stressed right now. Stress is intensified by a lack of hope or the assumption that relief is far away. Disruption of our normal routines contributes to the already-bad situation. So what can we do? 

Turning to the Book of Wisdom can be comforting. It is an easy read, and I highly recommend Chapter 7:22b-8:1. We read of the nature of Wisdom, and I am reminded right away of the multitude of reasons I should continue to pray for a personal outpouring. 

The passage to which I refer lists numerous attributes of Wisdom’s spirit: holy, humane, free from anxiety, all-powerful, loving the good—-to name a few. If we feel stuck in our stress, we need Wisdom to get us unstuck, verse 24:

For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
because of her pureness
she
 pervades and penetrates all things.

Since we are praying in this season of Advent in preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Light of the world, I particularly delight in verse 26 which tells us:

For she is reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness.

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Topics: Christmas, Book of Wisdom, catholic program renew, Jesus Christ, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, stress, Christmas Star, Star of Bethlehem

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Nov 6, 2020 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Wisdom
(Chapter 22:20-26 )

No one knows who the author of the Book of Wisdom was or if there were several authors. We do know that it was written in Greek only about 50 years before the birth of Jesus for the Jewish community in Alexandria, to give them hope in the midst of persecution.

Wisdom is portrayed as a woman, a God-like figure giving advice and comfort to the people. “Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.”

We all need wisdom that goes beyond mere knowledge of facts into a deeper level of knowing. We often refer to this special level of wisdom when we say, “She was very wise for her age.” “He is a wise old soul.” Wisdom is a gift that comes to us at different times and from many sources. Do you believe in your own wisdom? How does it help you at important times in your life? From whom do you seek wisdom? Who are your go-to wisdom sources, not necessarily the most knowledgeable people, but folks who have life-teaching wisdom? Do you pray for wisdom, especially during difficult times or in situations that call for you to make hard decisions? The Holy Spirit within you will answer those prayers. Wisdom is never far away if you seek it with an open heart.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 63:2, 3-4,, 5-6, 7-8)

“My soul is thirsting for you my God…. For you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” The author of the psalm lived in a desert area where water was both a necessity and a gift. Thirsting for God was an expression that every desert people could identify with.

Think of a time when you were really thirsty. How did it feel, and how did it also feel when you finally had that drink of water? Your soul and mine thirst for God, but we don’t always realize it until we are in need or when we are struck by the awesomeness of creation or the challenges of our lives.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians

(Chapter 4:13-18)

We Christians believe in a life after death. Paul did as well, and here he wants to say it clearly to his beloved people, the Thessalonians. “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve, like the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

It is a great blessing to believe that our loved ones are alive in the peace and loving embrace of God, that they have been forgiven, healed and now live again. Do you believe that for them and for yourself? Do you truly believe that heaven is not some dream, or something made up but rather a new level of reality for all of us, no matter who we are? We cannot gain heaven by our deeds alone. It is a gift that God offers to us and, like all gifts, we need to accept it and live our life here in gratitude for it.

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Topics: parable of the 10 virgins, a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Book of Wisdom, catholic program renew, Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus Christ, Psalm 63, renew catholic program, RENEW International, stay awake, Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians

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