Print Version September 20th, 2004
One thing the book of proverbs has going for it is clarity. Collections of pithy sayings that always sound like reminders of things you have always known. You heard them at your mother’s knee: be good; be kind to others; don’t be resentful; be careful of the company you keep.
Schoolteachers spent their breath repeating these things. I dare say priests a-plenty have underlined them since. Religious superiors, too. By now we accuse ourselves with them in our sleep.
Jesus by contrast is often unclear to the point of confusion. What he says doesn’t collect well. I think I grasp what he means about the lamp and the lamp-stand. And I almost follow him when he warns about secrets coming to light even though the link is really only in the image of light. But what that has to do with taking care of what we hear I do not know. I’m not even sure I know how to take care what I hear. Let alone how it then follows that the one who has will be given more …
And yet … and yet, there’s something like poetry in the package. There’s a meaning in the whole that I can’t find in the parts. I can’t articulate it—but it’s there to contemplate, to touch.
As I listen I’m not sure I get to know what he means but I get the strange sense I’ve been listening to someone real. Someone I want to know better. Someone I would take care to hear.