For Orthodox Christians around the world, a journey has begun today. It is a spiritual journey that will eventually lead us all the way to the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. For the next 6 weeks we will journey through Great Lent and then we will experience Holy Week and the incredible Feast of Feasts: the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. A great opportunity is before us; it is not like any other opportunity. May we take serious our Faith and draw closer to our Lord than we have ever been. Let us begin our journey today.
You have probably seen some of the multitude of articles and websites discussing how much we need to work our brains to keep us thinking and make us smarter. There are even websites that promise to increase your brain power for a small monthly fee. Perhaps you do daily crossword puzzles or Sudoku to help you think more intelligently. All of these things are good, but not of the greatest importance. We all know people that may be extremely intelligent, but may not be very wise in how they live their lives. Simply put, having intelligence does not equal being wise.
On this first day of Great Lent, there is a challenge set before us to exercise our brain in such a way as to increase our wisdom (intelligence also comes with wisdom…but not necessarily the other way around). In the opening of Proverbs 1, we are told why King Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs: “To know wisdom…” In fact he gives us a wonderful list of things that could be ours if we take time to study this book. “A wise man will hear and increase learning and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.”
The Scriptures tell us that King Solomon so pleased God at the beginning of his reign, that God said: “Ask me for whatever you want me to give you.” He could have asked for riches or long life, but instead he asked God for wisdom and discernment. God responded: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.” (You can read that whole story in 1 Kings 3 or in the Orthodox Study Bible on page 392).
We can seek intelligence through puzzles, games, and various website brain exercises. Or during this year’s Lenten journey, we could seek wisdom through our study of the Book of Proverbs. Each day, we can do our daily readings and find wisdom on how to live our lives. This would be a most excellent way to exercise our brains! How about setting aside the times spent doing a puzzle or Sudoku, and spend that time with our daily readings? What do we have to lose? Or rather, what do we have to gain?
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding,
3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;
4 To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—
5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother;
9 For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil;
14 Cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse”—
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path;
16 For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.
20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares.