Tag Archives: Proverbs

Brothers in Christ

In the Old Testament, the Book of Proverbs 27:17 reads: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

In the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew 18:20 quotes Jesus Christ as teaching: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

We modern men can be funny creatures. There are many who consider themselves to be men of faith, yet find themselves trapped by fear or embarrassment when faced with the challenge of publicly professing that faith, especially among other men.

In a world that is rapidly deteriorating all around us in matters of faith, spirituality, religion, and morality, we no longer have the choice to seek comfort in private prayer. We must come together, publicly, and call this world to order in the name of Jesus Christ.

There are many ways that you can individually participate in this calling. First, of course, you can simply go to Mass. Attending a service at Church on a regular basis establishes a personal and community base. It is only a minimum, but it is a must.

God commanded us all to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”, and we must set that time aside to publicly visit His house in the company of our family, friends, and neighbors.

Next, seek opportunities to expand your public prayer life within your community. Your own church community will likely have such opportunities. That is always a great place to start.

A few years ago, I began to serve my local parish as a Lector, and it has been greatly rewarding. I always feel that I am helping spread his Word by using the gifts that God gave me in this manner. You have gifts to use as well.

There are numerous groups on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites specifically established for men to join together and praise the Lord publicly, drawing strength and encouragement from one another. One has it’s own ‘hashtag’ of #BIC, standing for “Brothers In Christ”, and joins together posts mostly by men supporting the faith.

Finally, continue your private prayer. It is of vital importance as well. If you have never done so, consider learning to pray the rosary. I took up the practice of daily rosary prayer about a month ago. It takes only about 20 minutes to complete, and there are numerous resources in print, online, and even in apps, to teach and guide you.

We are all “Brothers In Christ”, as Matthew again quotes our Lord: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

We need one another to magnify our prayer, and to stand stronger during these days of great challenge. The forces of darkness and despair grow daily. We must emerge from our prayer closets and begin to shine our light in the world, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Surrender like Christ

Today is Palm Sunday, celebrating the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem to begin the pentultimate week of his life which would end in the most important event in human history.

As Christ willingly surrendered himself for our sake, we should follow his lead. Our inspiration can be found right in the Bible, in Proverbs 16.

It is the Old Testament’s Book of Proverbs chapter 16 where we learn to “entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” This important chapter of God’s own book of wisdom is full of lessons and inspirational sayings that guide us to surrender our lives to the Lord.

We all make plans and set our lives on a course. But no matter how well-meaning or well planned that personal direction might be, you will not find ultimate success without the blessings and guidance of the Lord. You must not only make your plans, but your plans must include yielding to God’s ultimate plan for you.

In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps” says Proverbs 16. “Happy is he who trusts in the Lord.” 

Make your plans, they are necessary. But just as necessary is to both pray on your plans and to include in your prayers to God an acknowledgement that He might have another direction for you. Make your plea that His will be done.

By acknowledging to God that you are at His mercy and will succeed only with His grace and blessings, you humble yourself appropriately and place your ultimate fate in His hands. “All the ways of a man may be pure in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves the spirit.”

Proverbs 16 gives advice for avoiding the influence of negative or evil people who will try to distract you from good in lessons such as “A scoundrel is a furnace of evil, and on his lips there is scorching fire” and “He who winks his eye is plotting trickery; he who compresses his lips has mischief ready.”

The book urges one to speak only truth and to bring positive messages to the lives of others with sayings such as “Pleasing words are a honeycomb, sweet to the taste and healthful to the body.” And yet we must do more than talk the sweet talk. Like Christ, we must be willing to walk the hard walk and surrender to God’s will for us.

How much better to acquire wisdom than gold!” sparks the book. “To acquire understanding is more desirable than silver.” We want to succeed, and we often measure that success by money, goods, and power. This is not how God sees, or will measure, your success.

Like Jesus Christ, as you plan and train and work towards your worldly goals, remember that you need to ask for God’s help and blessing. You need to be willing and open to His possibly having a different direction in mind for you.

And you need, as Proverbs 16 and other books of the Bible can teach you when read regularly and reverently, to recognize that worldly success is not your ultimate or most important goal.

NOTE: this entry is the continuation of the regular ‘Sunday Sermon’ series which can be found here most Sundays, all entries for which you can view by clicking on the below label from the www.mattveasey.com website

He who sows discord among brothers

For the past six weeks this regular ‘Sunday Sermon’ series has covered Proverbs 6:16-19 in which the Bible speaks of “6 Things the Lord Hates (7 an Abomination)”, and today we wrap the discussion with that 7th and final item.

This item speaks particularly to families, and serves as both a calling and a warning not only to brothers and sisters, but to anyone who would sow discord within a family situation.

In past weeks we have spoken of people with ‘Haughty Eyes’, basically those who think they are better than others. We have spoken of ‘A Lying Tongue’, but the seventh item addresses not only liars but also those who use truthful situations to sow discord.

We have spoken of ‘Hands That Shed Innocent Blood’, but the seventh need not lead necessarily to physical bloodshed in accomplishing what is still its own brand of violence. In ‘A Heart That Plots Wicked Schemes’ we spoke very much of the person in this seventh item and the intentional nature of their actions.

In ‘Feet That Run Swiftly to Evil’ we spoke of how some just can’t wait to pounce on an other’s misfortune and also who seem almost joyful when approaching evil. Last week we spoke of ‘The False Witness’, the gossiper among man and he who not only will lie among friends, but who also is willing to take his lie all the way into an official proceeding or on to an official document.

It is all of these six things which the Bible says that the Lord hates which together lead to perhaps the worst of them all, the seventh which is an abomination in his eyes.

In the earliest book of the Bible, ‘Genesis’, God teaches us that the family is of utmost importance, and warns against turning against your family. He begins to teach the lesson in the story of the very first brothers, Cain and Abel.

When Cain becomes jealous of Abel, God says to Cain “If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door; his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.” 

When God becomes aggrieved and tired of early man’s wickedness He decides to wipe man from the earth in a great flood. He finds one man and his family worthy of saving, worthy of starting mankind anew. Not a group of friends. Not a town of neighbors. Not some tribal leaders and elders. One family is chosen, the family of a man named Noah to whom God said “With you I will establish my covenant; you and your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives…” 

Later when the flood was over and the land had dried, and Noah and his family exited the ark, God blessed them and said to them “Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.” But he also admonished them saying “..from man in regard to his fellow man I will demand an accounting for human life.” 

God shows here that he not only wants the family of man to exist, but he demands from us that we care for one another.

The further Genesis story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is all about family and its import. God sets this family as his chosen people, those whom he will particularly bless, as well as all those who align themselves with this family. Jacob has his name changed to ‘Israel’ and produces twelves sons, the ‘Twelve Tribes of Israel’, down through time the Jewish people.

The story of the beginnings of God’s chosen people in its very first family, particularly in the story of the relationship between Joseph and his eleven brothers, talks about how we should and should not treat our own families. It shows the dangers in that very act of sowing discord among brothers, as well as provides the redemptive faculties that come with love and forgiveness. Throughout the Bible we hear of the importance of family.

In Proverbs 12:4 we learn that “A worthy wife is the crown of her husband.” In Deuteronomy 12:12 we learn that we shall “make merry before the Lord, your God, with your sons and daughters.” In the fourth of the Ten Commandments the Lord orders us to “Honor your father and mother.” 

God through Shemaiah in the Bible’s 2nd book of Chronicles 11:4 says “You must not march out to fight against your brothers” and in Nehemiah 4:8 commands “Fight for your brethren, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes.” 

In Psalm 127:3 we are told that “Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.” In Proverbs 17:6 that “Grandchildren are the crown of old men.” 

In Sirach 3:3 we are taught that “He who honors his father atones for sins” and in 3:9 that “A father’s blessing gives a family firm roots.” The Book of Sirach is particularly helpful in its warnings as well, telling us in 16:3 “Rather die childless than have Godless children” as well as in 25:15 that “With a dragon or a lion I would rather dwell than live with an evil woman.”

There is the lesson of Mary herself, the humble mother of Jesus, the earthly mother of God Himself who gave birth to, raised, taught, suffered with, and has been exalted with the Lord. And then there is the lesson of her husband, Joseph, the stepfather to Jesus Christ who stood by Mary and who helped raise the Son of God.

During our lives God gives all of us two families; the one into which we are born, and the one which we create ourselves.

The first points to our ancestry and our family roots; our fathers and mothers, our grandparents and older forefathers, and our brothers and sisters. The second is formed with our husbands and wives, leading to our children and grandchildren and our descendants.

God gives this first group to us as gifts to cherish, but this gift is of human beings. They, like you, will have faults and sins and will be imperfect. They may not have the faculty to comprehend the loving nature that they have been called to in the family, or may have been so damaged by the traumas of their lives that they have lost this capacity.

It is up to you the learned, you who understand what it is that God wants from your familial relationships, to be the glue that keeps your family together as best you can. It is also directly on you to see to it that your own descendants learn directly from you this importance of family that God himself has established.

Do not give in to the gossip and the discord, to things as vile as abuse and hatred, that you may find lurking within your family. You can only control where your family goes from here, not where it has been in the past.

Do not become one who sows discord among brothers and sisters, parents and children, one whom the Lord actually hates. Instead draw closer to God, and in doing so become the rock upon which a foundation of love and support can allow your family to flourish.

NOTE: This is the continuation of the regular ‘Sunday Sermon’ series, all entries of which can be viewed by clicking that below label.

The false witness

She spreads the rumors that are not true, sometimes willing to do so even when she knows they are false. He takes the witness stand in court, swears an oath to God that he will tell the truth, and then lies knowingly.

According to the Bible in Proverbs 6:16-19, one of those things that we have been talking about the past few Sundays which the Lord hates is ‘The False Witness’.

These individuals use many of the characteristics of those whom we have talked about in previous weeks: lying, plotting, scheming, stabbing people in the back, and often doing so enthusiastically.

There is even an inside term for what this person is capable of in the police lingo of my own law enforcement profession: testilying. It is a merger of the words ‘testifying’ and ‘lying’, and basically refers to those times when police officers themselves lie under oath in a court proceeding.

Shocked that it happens, and that a police officer with two decades in the field such as myself would speak of it? You shouldn’t be. Every Judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and cop knows that it happens.

This is not to say that every cop lies, or that cops who are willing to lie in court do so all the time. This is not the case at all. But it does happen, and it happens for one simple reason that should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. That reason is that police officers are human beings, and human beings lie.

Some folks lie more frequently or in more serious situations than others. But all human beings lie, from the police to the press, from paupers to the President of the United States.

Now do all police officers lie on the stand? No, of course not. There are many with enough integrity that they would never even consider it.

Think of the steroid scandal in baseball. Some abused steroids flagrantly, but most ballplayers never used the substance at all, and many never would even consider it. The problem becomes that when one ballplayer, cop, lawyer, politician, doctor, or judge is caught flagrantly lying or cheating, they taint the reputations of all in their profession.

What Proverbs is speaking of in this item in the list of ‘6 Things the Lord Hates – 7 an Abomination’ is when a person lies in regards to another person in an attempt to damage that others’ reputation, possibly even to take away their freedom or their life.

Sometimes people will do this because they believe sincerely that the person about whom they are lying deserves some type of justice and punishment, and this will likely not happen without the lie.

In fact, these types of people will sometimes feel that they are not lying at all, or that they are telling a ‘small lie’ or ‘white lie’, in that their lie is simply a slight exaggeration or a made-up example of what their target is doing in reality.

To them, getting that person’s actions out in the open is more important than telling the truth. It is a perfect ‘the ends justifies the means’ scenario.

The false witness is also anyone who lies on any official document or in any proceeding where they are required to swear an oath, or where they represent by their official authority or title that some action has occurred when it has not.

Have you ever filled out and affixed your signature to any contract, document, or form involving public assistance, child custody, taxes, divorce, illness, insurance, accidents, criminality and anything else official where you lied, no matter how slight and no matter what your reasoning?

Have you ever gossiped about a co-worker or a neighbor or a family member when you either knew that the story was false, or when you had no personal knowledge that it was true? Are you a professional on whom the public depends to tell the truth as a part of your professional reputation?

Then you acted as ‘The False Witness’, someone who is hated by our God. It is one thing to sin, which we all are going to do at some point as human beings. It is an entirely different matter to have God actually hate you. Consider this as you consider continuing your behavior, and this time swear instead to never take these types of actions again.

NOTE: This is the continuation of the ‘Sunday Sermon’ series which comes every Sunday here at the blog, each entry of which you can view by clicking in to that below label.

Feet that run swiftly to evil

Continuing in the ‘Sunday Sermon’ series (each entry of which can be read by clicking in to the label below this posting) with the fifth of the six things that the Lord hates from Proverbs 6:16-19 in the Bible’s ‘Old Testament.’

This time we are discussing those times that we not only sin, not only plan and plot to sin, but we rush to it enthusiastically, even happily. Of course we know that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Some of us know that all too well.

And yet despite that knowledge we not only fail to control our appetites, we not only allow ourselves to remain obese, but we rush to the ice cream aisle at the grocery store for some Haagen Dazs or Breyers or Turkey Hill.

We know that lust is a deadly sin, but we dive into that sexual affair anyway. We not only plan and plot to make time for physical intimacy with that illicit partner, but we rush happily and excitedly to those liaisons.

We all understand that greed is a deadly sin, but we all too often succumb to the mantra spoken by Michael Douglas’ character of Gordon Gekko (pictured) in the 1987 motion picture ‘Wall Street’: “..greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.” Especially when it comes to money, we want more.

Wanting more isn’t the bad thing. What is bad about it is when we want that ‘more money’ so badly that we cut corners to get it, possibly even commit fraud and other crimes. When we take away from others what is rightly theirs, including time with us from our families.

Those working hard to make ends meet and give their families a better life, perhaps working two jobs or extended hours, are not those being spoken about here. Here we are talking about those whose ends are meeting like nobodies business, but who continue to drive forward, distancing themselves from their loving, familial, inter-personal relationships.

Greed, for lack of a better word, is bad. It is wrong, it does not work. It destroys, it separates, it blinds those who fall into its trap. Yet so many rush off eagerly to get more, to make more, to sell more, to steal more, to take more, caring about little else in that greedy dash to win a rat race that no one has ever won. In the end, we all end up in the same place.

You and me and Donald Trump and Bill Gates all end up in the same exact place in our earthly lives. But where will we end up when those lives are completed?

Sloth is the sin of simply not caring, or of giving up in despair. How many people do we know who simply continue to wallow in the mire of their own self-pity. Life is difficult at times, and at times it deals all of us bad hands. Sometimes it deals us incredibly emotional tragic hands.

Sorrow is a natural reaction, as is grief. We all need time to grieve. But we also need to heal, and we need to mend. When we allow ourselves to continue on, wallowing in our grief and sadness and despair, we are sinning.

God challenges us for reasons that only He knows. It is our job to meet those challenges head on, not to eagerly run into a corner and hide from the life which goes on despite the hurt that we refuse to overcome.

Another of the deadly sins is wrath, that anger which we all have felt at times. But there are some who seem perpetually angry with the world. The angry young man who is mad at the world, the woman who is constantly yelling at her spouse or kids.

The deadly sins include envy and pride also. How many of us are jealous of someone else’s home, or kids, or partner, or job, or clothes, or look, or even their entire life? Look at what you have, and make it the best that you can, and find your happiness there. No one can be truly happy by taking what belongs to another.

Two of God’s commandments speak directly to this situation: “Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s spouse” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods“. Wipe the covetous thoughts from your mind and heart rather than embracing and being overcome by them.

As for pride, how many of us in reality have it so much better than everyone else that we can afford this sin? My body is hotter than yours. My hair is better than yours. My test grades are higher than yours. My car is faster and sleeker than yours.

Fact is, there is always someone out there who has it better than you. If you have something good going on, enjoy it and be happy about it. But you should never flaunt it in someone else’s face.

When God gives you a gift, whether that is something physical or material or spiritual, you need to humbly acknowledge that gift, cherish it, and manage it with great care. We also always need to remember those who have less. Not out of pity, but out of genuine human caring and concern.

We are all going to fall. We are all sinners. But when we are sinning and in the process of doing so rush excitedly to commit them, when our feet run swiftly to evil, then we are doing something that the Lord expressly and exceedingly hates. We need to begin applying the brakes, stop in our tracks, and turn around to Him and His way and away from the sins we rush madly towards.