Be cunning?.................


#1

Here is a homily from:
Daily Homily
Daily_Homily@googlegroups.com

Wondering what is thought of ‘being cunning’…what did Jesus mean, how do you interpret this reading into your daily life…

JULY 8, 2005FRIDAY 14TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIMEMATTHEW 10:16-23Jesus said to his Apostles: "Behold, I am sending you like sheep inthe midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourgeyou in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors andkings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When theyhand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what youare to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. Forit will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speakingthrough you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the fatherhis child; children will rise up against parents and have them put todeath. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoeverendures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in onetown, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish thetowns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

"REFLECTIONThe words of Jesus in today’s gospel are words of warning accompaniedby words of promise. He tells his apostles that they are being sentout “as sheep among wolves” and therefore they (we) must be "cunningas serpents and yet as harmless as doves.“Jesus then goes on to describe coming persecutions when his discipleswill suffer, but he also promises that the Holy Spirit will be thereto provide whatever is needed for the apostles’ ministry.Most Christians find it easy to understand being like sheep amongwolves or being as harmless as doves. This is often interpreted tomean that we should be meek and humble like sheep or doves. What weoften overlook is that Jesus also asks us to be as “cunning asserpents.” What could this mean? Are we to imitate the serpent inGenesis who enticed Eve to eat the forbidden fruit?Maybe not, but there is still a place for being “cunning” in aChristian’s life, and perhaps it has to do with discerning the needsof every time and place. We are asked not only to be meek and humblefollowers or servants (sheep and doves), but also to be cunning-tounderstand the ways of the world and to do what is necessary toproclaim the Gospel, even if it involves suffering and persecution.St. Benedict was a “cunning” saint. Living in the early sixthcentury, he noticed the moral decay in society and even in theexisting monasteries, so he started reforming monasteries andeventually wrote the famous Rule of St. Benedict. This later becamethe norm for Western monasticism. Rather than promote excessive self-denial among monks, Benedict envisioned a community that balancedwork and prayer (ora et labora) and sought to be a school of holinessrather than a group of individuals competing for holiness. Hestressed interior conversion rather than external manifestations ofpiety.In the middle ages, the monasteries became models of an alternativeworld ruled by the spirit of Christ. Where extreme social hierarchyruled, the monasteries presented an ideal of social equality. Whenmanual labor was derided, they affirmed the spiritual value of work.When culture and education was disintegrating, they maintainedpockets of learning and civilization. Where violence ruled, theypreached and lived in peace. The Benedictine monasteries challengedthe prevailing values in the world, and we are called to do the samein our world.We must be cunning as serpents and harmless as doves.PRAYER"Lord, help me to patiently and joyfully accept the hardships,adversities, and persecution which come my way in serving you.Strengthen my faith and give me courage that I may not shrink backfrom doing your will”.


#2

What an interesting question. I looked up cunning and its definition is shrewd which means discerning. I use to think it might have ment to be as street wise,(so to speak) as non-believers so we are not taken advantage of. After reading the homily, I see where I was way off track! Thanks for bringing this up. :thumbsup:


#3

I always think of it as “street smart” but not jaded and worldly.
Pax vobiscum,


#4

Hi there LoveTheChurch and also ChurchMilitant…I also thought of it as being ‘street wise’ (I think you have coined and implied an excellent definition: ‘street wise’! for Jesus’s term 'cunning!))or summed up in the words of the homily I gave in full in my Post#1:…

“… but there is still a place for being “cunning” in aChristian’s life, and perhaps it has to do with discerning the needsof every time and place. We are asked not only to be meek and humblefollowers or servants (sheep and doves), but also to be cunning-tounderstand the ways of the world and to do what is necessary toproclaim the Gospel, even if it involves suffering and persecution.”

Psychology has a term “universal personality” which is the result of a totally integrated personality…meaning that one can relate on any level…i.e. discern and meet the needs of any situation.

Some interpret their role or call as to be meek and humble in absolutely every situation… the statement of Jesus “meek and humble as lambs AND AS CUNNNING AS A SNAKE”… does obviously seem and appear to cancel out that one should (= must, no alternative…as operative)adopt a humble and meek stance in absolutely every situation. This has resulted as a MUST I tend to think from a proclomation of Jesus as a rather wishy washy person and not so!

Rather we need to interpret the need of any situation and meet that need (cunning). The criteria we use to interpret the situation becomes: "how do I bring the truth of The Gospel in to this particular situation?"asking an understanding of the situation and also the appropriate teaching of Christ for that situation.

In the life of Jesus certainly and also in the lives of many saints indeed (including the mystic’s mystic, St. Paul) they were not at all meek and humble in EVERY SITUATION .

Our call is not to walk in the footsteps of anyone but Jesus…as I see things!..though imitation of certain virtues of saints etc. is not thereby cancelled.
It asks that I insight what God is calling me to…His Will for my particular life…which may be different, totally different from another. As I cannot criticize another for their particular call…so the reverse applies:

“in my Father’s House there are many mansions and I go to prepare a place for YOU” … and also St. Paul’s teaching on The Mystical Body that an ear for example would be ridiculous if it desired to be an eye …room for us all in God’s Bounty!!!

Street wise is an excellent term I think for what Jesus meant…provided we ensure that in using it all share a common definition!..or that I declare what I mean by ‘street wise’ so that listeners insight my meaning by using the term.

Regards Barb

P.S. When God was handing out brevity and conscisesness…I was absorbed in the talking and writing que!!!..“all things work together for those that love God”. The Good God has use for all things…even our faults and failings!!! … the joining of these and the virtues He grants to us make us the unique person we are. Also our faults and failings oft keep us from the most insidious of all failings in spirituality: spiritual pride!
Our faults and failings remind us that we are indeed nothing but sinners!..
…they also highlight the wondrous Mercy of God…since consciousness of our consistent and daily many faults and failings - our lack of the perfect, the very best - call us to let His Mercy live in us … for our own good and also to make life liveable for all around us!
Of course we strive to overcome our sins, faults, failings etc. etc. …but if we ever think we shall reach the ‘magic number zero’ then we are indeed building a castle in the sky and running the danger
that we shall move into it (spiritual pride takn over!). Rather moved to absolute wondrous praise and thanskgiving at God’s Loving and All Encompassing Mercy…and to ask God that it indeed live IN us…this is astounding!


#5

If you truly deny your “self” like Christ said to, then you will not have a “false face” getting in the way, and you can adopt a mask of those we are around in order to weasel our way in among them.

Paul did this. He became like whoever he was with, to win them. This doesn’t work for people who think their Catholicism is based on external acts of piety. They go in and blow their cover with a “hi I’m Catholic” face on that causes the false selves in the others to automatically raise their shields. At that point you have lost the advantage of stealth.

This is why I harp so much on rising above the orthodox v cafeteria feud, because there is a whole mystical side of the Truth that transcends words and to which well-intended words can even do damage.

One model I see is based on focused attention v peripheral (intuitive) attention. When I was in grade school the teachers called me a “dreamer,” as if that was a bad thing. Now I know that intuition (and maybe even the Holy Spirit) work entirely in this peripheral consciousness. These are the things you didn’t notice or remember, until they suddenly pop into your head at just the right time. Peripheral consciousness takes care of a zillon things at once, including your breathing and everything (unless you focus on breathing) while the focused consciousness mostly distracts from enjoying the beauty and the communion with All Things that cannot come through conscious attention.

Throughtout school, we are told to “pay attention” and we are always supposed to be “on task.” This focused attention becomes “more important” than our intuition, so we get all hung up in words and mathematics and the cares of this world, and completely ignore clues that are staring us in the face. Sometimes we need to learn to undo some of the damage that a faithless society does when it educates us, and recapture the art of being.

Mystical theology deals with such things, and I have written email to the pope telling him that I think cafeteria Catholics may be hungry for much more exposure to the Church’s “inner light” that is her apophatic tradition, to complement her kataphatic teachings.

One strange thing about my illness. I seem to naturally match up with people because I am so sensitive to their attitude that I respond as often to that as to the actual logic they’re saying. It works two ways. The enemy squeaks in hatred in the language of Catholics by interjecting hidden meanings based on word choices and voice tones, etc, that I think are natural reactions to the emotions of the speaker as they try to express themselves but cannot hide their anger, for their tongue deceives them – the more they wag it the more they betray what is really in their hearts.

It can be very subtle. It can be like, “why do you say this when faithful Catholics say that?” A perfectly harmless question, but I’ve used similar questions to sound innocent while implicity accusing someone, and it can work like magic. Usually I have to be a lot more obvious, though, because most people are virtually blind to their peripheral consciousness, like, “why do you think that way when by doing so you are denying the truth and risking eternal damnation?” If they are really dense I might say, “inviting eternal damnation.” The trick is to do the opposite of whatever I want to do. If I want to unite two people, I divide them and let their natural human love, seeing the cut, jump in and take over.

For example, two people are arguing “in charity” about something, but you know what I mean when I say that they have to keep reminding myself they are being charitable. I take one of their sides (it doesn’t matter too much which one) and take whatever accusations their claiming or hinting around at, and take them to their extreme. Therefore, I craft my words so that as to use every bit of bad vibes I pick up from that conversation and others like it, to create a horrible characature of the issue and “stand up” for one of them against the other using that charactature. All of a sudden, the person I attacked is horrified but doesn’t know who at, and the person I sided with suddently turns against me, as if I were a Common Enemy. This, then, causes the one poster to defend the person whom their heart was right in the middle of accusing.

This is wonderful to see, because once they minister to each other, they are bonded in a way that cannot be denied. Funny thing is, I don’t figure this out in advance. With my illness and my tendency to run on, I get away with saying a lot of extreme things so I don’t even know what I’m doing sometimes until I see the Holy Spirit work through it. There was such an example in the cafe Catholics Guild thread, that I didn’t even realize how beautiful it was unfolding until it did. Somehow I end up saying things that have effects I didn’t expect. Sometimes those unexpected effects are the ones to remember for next time’s strategy. :wink:

Alan


#6

I think I was right there in line with you.

…“all things work together for those that love God”. The Good God has use for all things…even our faults and failings!!! …

Aha, that’s the ticket. Look at my overworked verbal spewing system as a subtle virtue! :smiley:

You know me, I’m always looking to feed my insatiable pride. :smiley: It grows and grows until finally someone with either pride or humility greater than mine cuts it down, and we grow up again in the next generation of attitude revisions.

Alan


#7

[quote=AlanFromWichita]I think I was right there in line with you.

Aha, that’s the ticket. Look at my overworked verbal spewing system as a subtle virtue! :smiley:
[/quote]

nahhh…hang on a bit Alan…our faults and failings are not virtues subtle or otherwise…but The Church teaches (thus holds water with me through obedience and also my own common sense…theology to me is common sense extraordinaire) that our faults and failings are an evil (opposed to good) but that God permits evil because He can bring about a greater good. No cause for pride at all…but joy, praise and thanksgiving “How Great A God Thou Art!!!”…a subtle shift of emphasis Alan from pondering self (my much pondered navel)to pondering The Lord…a disinterest in self…The Holy Spirit was in the gentle breeze (subtle) and the mighty wind (very very obvious!)…

If in the light of the above one ponders one’s navel only…only faults and failings etc. and an evil opposed to good are sighted…contemplation per se is NOT pondering mine navel…humility is not just to see myself as a sinner therein despair…but to see myself as a sinner in the wondrous Mercy of God granted, to know I do not deserve it at all but granted anyway…and joy and praise and thanksgiving for such a God Thou Art Indeed Are!

Love in The Lord, Alan… de Barb!:smiley:


#8

[quote=AlanFromWichita]If you truly deny your “self” like Christ said to, then you will not have a “false face” getting in the way, and you can adopt a mask of those we are around in order to weasel

**I have here had to cut out a large part of Alan’s Post as his entire Post and my response exceeded the 5000 word limit **

(unless you focus on breathing) while the focused consciousness mostly distracts from enjoying the beauty and the communion with All Things that cannot come through conscious attention.

Throughtout school, we are told to “pay attention” and we are always supposed to be “on task.” This focused attention becomes “more important” than our intuition, so we get all hung up in words and mathematics and the cares of this world, and completely ignore clues that are staring us in the face. Sometimes we need to learn to undo some of the damage that a faithless society does when it educates us, and recapture the art of being.

Mystical theology deals with such things, and I have written email to the pope telling him that I think cafeteria Catholics may be hungry for much more exposure to the Church’s “inner light” that is her apophatic tradition, to complement her kataphatic teachings.

One strange thing about my illness. I seem to naturally match up with people because I am so sensitive to their attitude that I respond as often to that as to the actual logic they’re saying. It works two ways. The enemy squeaks in hatred in the language of Catholics by interjecting hidden meanings based on word choices and voice tones, etc, that I think are natural reactions to the emotions of the speaker as they try to express themselves but cannot hide their anger, for their tongue deceives them – the more they wag it the more they betray what is really in their hearts.

It can be very subtle. It can be like, “why do you say this when faithful Catholics say that?” A perfectly harmless question, but I’ve used similar questions to sound innocent while implicity accusing someone, and it can work like magic. Usually I have to be a lot more obvious, though, because most people are virtually blind to their peripheral consciousness, like, “why do you think that way when by doing so you are denying the truth and risking eternal damnation?” If they are really dense I might say, “inviting eternal damnation.” The trick is to do the opposite of whatever I want to do. If I want to unite two people, I divide them and let their natural human love, seeing the cut, jump in and take over.

For example, two people are arguing “in charity” about something, but you know what I mean when I say that they have to keep reminding myself they are being charitable. I take one of their sides (it doesn’t matter too much which one) and take whatever accusations their claiming or hinting around at, and take them to their extreme. Therefore, I craft my words so that as to use every bit of bad vibes I pick up from that conversation and others like it, to create a horrible characature of the issue and “stand up” for one of them against the other using that charactature. All of a sudden, the person I attacked is horrified but doesn’t know who at, and the person I sided with suddently turns against me, as if I were a Common Enemy. This, then, causes the one poster to defend the person whom their heart was right in the middle of accusing.

This is wonderful to see, because once they minister to each other, they are bonded in a way that cannot be denied. Funny thing is, I don’t figure this out in advance. With my illness and my tendency to run on, I get away with saying a lot of extreme things so I don’t even know what I’m doing sometimes until I see the Holy Spirit work through it. There was such an example in the cafe Catholics Guild thread, that I didn’t even realize how beautiful it was unfolding until it did. Somehow I end up saying things that have effects I didn’t expect. Sometimes those unexpected effects are the ones to remember for next time’s strategy. :wink:

Alan
[/quote]

…wondering Alan if you have ever heard of ‘eidic perception’ (psychological term)…a baby for example sees what is really there until Mum and Dad start saying ‘say apple’…‘apple’…and once the toddler recognizes apple as apple…he/she stops seeing what is really there…contemplation in part is the art of seeing what is really there…i.e. eidic perceptive…

me again…de Barb smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/10/10_5_135.gif


#9

Dear BarbaraTherese,

Sigh. You come off like some easy going person, but boy you don’t mess around when you’re holding my pride’s feet to the fire, so to speak! I like that, because you help me speak correctly even when I’m tempted to try to “get away” with some phony jive. I see what you mean that theology makes a lot of sense to you. :yup:

[quote=BarbaraTherese]…wondering Alan if you have ever heard of ‘eidic perception’ (psychological term)…a baby for example sees what is really there until Mum and Dad start saying ‘say apple’…‘apple’…and once the toddler recognizes apple as apple…he/she stops seeing what is really there…contemplation in part is the art of seeing what is really there…i.e. eidic perceptive…

[/quote]

I’ve not heard of that particular term, but I might have heard philosopher Alan Watts talking about it or something like it. He called it an “oceanic experience” that Freud evidently talked about.

His point was that a newborn baby does not have any sense of self, or of differentiation (calculus) by which we take what we see and experience and break it up into thoughts, assign them words, etc. It does not distinguish between “self” and “other.”

Is that kind of like what you were talking about? I can relate this in a way to “you must be like a child” because once a baby is socialized, it is taught that it is a separate entity, and holds responsibility for itself, and is therefore subject to praise and blame and automatically bestows those favors on others as they learn the game of manipulation and in the process develop an entirely superficial idea of self. This false self, built by societal attitudes on a foundation of original sin, is that self which Christ would have us deny, and that the Holy Spirit can effectively dismantle if you deny the self long enough to let the Spirit have a silent word in edgewise…

Alan


#10

[quote=BarbaraTherese]…wondering Alan if you have ever heard of ‘eidic perception’ (psychological term)…a baby for example sees what is really there until Mum and Dad start saying ‘say apple’…‘apple’…and once the toddler recognizes apple as apple…he/she stops seeing what is really there…contemplation in part is the art of seeing what is really there…i.e. eidic perceptive…

me again…de Barb smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/10/10_5_135.gif
[/quote]

Do you mean eidetic perception? That’s a familiar term from phenomenalism (as a mode of cotemplation) but I’ve never heard of “eidic.” Just curious…


#11

[quote=maendem]Do you mean eidetic perception? That’s a familiar term from phenomenalism (as a mode of cotemplation) but I’ve never heard of “eidic.” Just curious…
[/quote]

Hi Maendem…

You are right:thumbsup: …thanks for setting me straight. I read about eidetic perception quite a few years ago and it sounded quite logical to me(not necessarily any recommendation!:smiley: ). When I read your Post quoted above, I realized my mistake re spelling. Thank you muchly!!!..when I first read about it I too connected it with the contemplative experience…

Regards Barb


#12

[quote=BarbaraTherese]Hi Maendem…

You are right:thumbsup: …thanks for setting me straight. I read about eidetic perception quite a few years ago and it sounded quite logical to me(not necessarily any recommendation!:smiley: ). When I read your Post quoted above, I realized my mistake re spelling. Thank you muchly!!!..when I first read about it I too connected it with the contemplative experience…

Regards Barb
[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#13

[quote=AlanFromWichita]Dear BarbaraTherese,

Sigh. You come off like some easy going person, but boy you don’t mess…

I’ve not heard of that particular term,…“
I have had to cut a large part of Alan’s Post out due to number of word limitation to a Post…please refer to his post as it is worth the read!
”… were talking about? I can relate …others as they learn the game of manipulation and in the process develop an entirely superficial idea of self. This false self, built by societal attitudes on a foundation of original sin, is that self which Christ would have us deny, and that the Holy Spirit can effectively dismantle if you deny the self long enough to let the Spirit have a silent word in edgewise…

Alan
[/quote]

Hi Alan…gee Man, I truly never meant to hold your feet in fire!..I really am an easy going laid back sort of person smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/23/23_144_13.gif !!!

Yes I think our branches of theology have an appeal to practical logic … or thus it seems to me (no recommendation necessarily!!!). The nun that taught me and a quite aged and feisty little Dominican nun of about 4 ft.6inches with a brilliant intellect and who (much gratitude to her) allowed me to speculate and arrive at my own conclusions, told me (and I agree) that true science and true theology must walk hand in hand…and if they are contradictory then something is wrong in one or the other, or perhaps both…i.e. both must go back to the drawing board in the interests of truth. Truth is what it implies and cannot contradict itself and all branches of science (including theology - a science) are engaged in the search for truth.

As to eidetic perception (I had the spelling wrong, Alan , and Maendem very kindly has given the correct spelling - see his Post in this thread #10 ) … its like this…I see a tree and I see the shape of the trunk, how green the leaves are, the shape of the leaves, the height and shape of the tree. I see how it looks against the backdrop of a blue cloudless sky. Never having seen this particular tree before, I take all this in with the one glance( contemplative experience)…and all in the one total glance, without dissecting into the compartments I have mentioned. That is I see the tree as it really is!!! I say to my companion “Look! what a beautiful tree”. She replies: “Yes it is a weeping willow”…she fails to see what is really there because she has been taught that what she sees is a weeping willow! I hope that makes sense!..if anyone can explain better, please do so… I can see in my mind what I mean, but not put it into words- I feel!

As to “unless you become as little children” being a great fan of my patron St. Therese…I really like her insight…that children are absolutely trustful and confident of their parents. This ties in with the message St. Faustina gave to the world from The Lord: “Jesus I trust in you”…St. Faustina tells us to those who would trust in Jesus and in His Boundless Mercy…he will not withhold many gifts from! There is no sin great enough it cannot be forgiven in the realm of The Loving Mercy of The Lord…all that precludes its bounty is our own refusal to simply accept it. From his Loving Bounteous Mercy flows every imaginable gift, including HIs Love and yet His Love flows out in Loving Mercy.

As to our identity…“it is not good for man to be alone”…we are made to live together … and The Church has coined and defined a beatiful and powerful word to me “community”. Sadly all the documents I have seen on community as a dynamic have been written for religious. As babies I think we learn how to be selfish and self centred…and this becomes the foundation of the identity. I me and mine!..community is about us we and ours!!! The Blessed Trinity is a community … and as I see it the only way we can arrive at who we truly are is in community - who we are in relationship to this other. Identity is not something one can discover to me…not something I can put in place in my mind and then set about living up to…it unfolds as I relate to this other, these others and it continually unfolds and it unfolds in destiny, which is God’s Plan or Perogative. To have an image and then strive to live up to it to me is self orientated - turning in on itself. In community identity unfolds in every moment and the self flows outwards…and the self is a community in its depths - ground of being where in Grace The Blessed Trinity reside. This is stunning, astounding, outrageous, overwhelming…yet true!

I hope all that makes some sense:whacky: !

Regards Barb


#14

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