25Sep 25 Sept. Tuesday of Week Twenty Five

Prov 21:1ff. Advice about self-control from Solomon’s proverbs.

Luke 8:19ff. “My mother and my brothers are those who hear God’s word ..”

Knowing and Doing

The wise sayings in the Book of Proverbs are grouped around various sages: Solomon (10:1-22:16; chaps. 25-29), an Egyptian Scribe, Amen-em-Ope (22:17- 24:22), Agur (30:1-6), and Lemuel (31:1-9). Some of them led schools at Jerusalem, as we know to have been the case with another respected sage, “Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach” (Sir 50:27), known as Sirach or from a later title, Ecclesiasticus. Around 190 B.C. Sirach wrote to the young men of his country: Come to me, you untutored, and take up lodging in the house of instruction (Sir 51:23).

Most of the sapiential literature, notably the Book of Proverbs, defers very little to religious authority; it is based on common sense and wisdom. What has succeeded for so many years, even centuries, has an exceptional power. It has no special set of prerequisites to understand its message. Just be open, honest, reflective, humble, strong, the basic qualities of human nature as it was originally created by God and as it has spread throughout the world. All the world knows and accepts the wisdom of Proverbs: The one who makes a fortune by a lying tongue is chasing a bubble over deadly snares.

Whether we take the more “religious” route of Ezra or the more “secular” way of Proverbs, we must arrive at a healthy openness to the real world and form ties with real people. Perhaps that was what Jesus meant in his enigmatic reply to his mother Mary and his brothers. It only seems a rejection of his relatives when he says, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it”; for Luke elsewhere shows Mary as the great hearer of the Word. But for us to know God’s word we must be open to all who are sincere, virtuous, obedient and responsive to life.

First Reading: Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart – the lamp of the wicked – are sin.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The souls of the wicked desire evil; their neighbours find no mercy in their eyes.

When a scoffer is punished, the simple become wiser;
when the wise are instructed, they increase in knowledge.
The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; he casts the wicked down to ruin.
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard.

Gospel: Luke 8:19-21

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”