There is a very interesting verse in Proverbs 31 about which I had taken note until it came up in a talk recently.
In describing a woman of valour, there is this line in verse 25 which says:
“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.”
Other translations say that the woman laughs: at tomorrow; at the coming day; at the future; etc.
In a Jewish translation of this verse, it says:
“Strength and beauty are her raiment, and she laughs at the last day.”
The commentary by Rashi offers that “at the last day” suggests “On the day of her death, she departs with a good name.
Rule Four of Jordan Peterson’s new book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life is: “Notice that opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated.”
In this chapter, Peterson discusses how choosing to take responsibility is fundamental to being useful and leading a meaningful life. As usual, he weaves a range of sources together from the Hebrew Bible, to Egyptian myths, to Pinocchio and Peter Pan.
The section of this chapter that especially interested me is about conscience. Since conscience is a word that does not have a great deal of resonance in our contemporary culture, Peterson patiently expounds upon what conscience is and how it works.
Here is the relevant excerpt:
I love Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s writing so much.
It has that confident aphoristic quality to it that elicits attention.
Such is the case with his short essay entitled, “Death as Homecoming.”
Right at the beginning, Rabbi Heschel proposes that “in a way death is the test of the meaning of life. If death is devoid of meaning, then life is absurd. Life’s ultimate meaning remains obscure unless it is reflected upon in the face of death.”
Still, Heschel is keen to note that the Hebrew Bible and Jewish tradition do not stress “the problem of dying” so much as they stress “how to sanctify life.”
In the long gospel reading for Palm Sunday, we hear the story of the woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany.
Of the entire Sunday gospel reading from Mark, this section really struck me this year.
The woman anoints Jesus with a costly ointment from an alabaster jar that she bursts open in order to pour the ointment on his head.
The action provokes anger among observers over the ointment having been “wasted” instead of sold so that the money could be given to the poor.
During the summers of 2016 and 2018, I attended seminars hosted by the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies. These seminars take place in Norcia, Italy and provide participants with an opportunity to experience the liturgical life of the Benedictine Monks who live there. The seminars include study sessions on Thomas Aquinas’ commentary on a particular book of Sacred Scripture as well as leisurely, convivial multi-course Italian meals.