2021-01-03 Wise Men - Difference
Wise Men See God in the Simple Things
If you’re on social media, you have probably seen a meme going around that features this quote: “God has a plan for your life. The enemy has a plan for your life. Be ready for both. Just be wise enough to know which one to battle and which one to embrace.”
There were certainly two competing plans for the Magi: God’s and Herod’s. And, wise as they supposedly were, it wasn’t entirely easy for the Magi to discern which was which.
After all, Herod posed as a friend. He offered the Magi hospitality and kindness. Though the Gospel doesn’t say so, he probably flattered them and appealed to every moral weakness he could observe in them. In his palace, they must have felt great physical comfort — rest
and tables of plenty on what was an otherwise long and treacherous journey.
But if the Magi were honest with themselves, I’ll bet they would have admitted that, regarless of Herod’s charm, they felt a gnawing sense of doubt while in his presence. When they looked upon the Christ Child, born in a stable without any of the comforts of the world or protections of wealth, they probably felt the opposite. They probably felt safe.
The Magi were lucky enough to have the right plan spelled out for them in a dream, but for the rest of us, it’s enough to remember this: God’s plan is often the one that leads us to places of great simplicity, great humility and great love. Let’s have the wisdom to view power with suspicion, and innocence with admiration.— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS
What is the difference between a chastisement and a punishment?
The distinction between chastisement and punishment is, in many ways, a subtle one, but which is still relevant in our Catholic tradition.
First, chastisement is a concept that is grounded in Sacred Scripture. Here, we see chastisement as a response by God to people’s actions that is intended to teach a lesson. As St. John Paul II observed, chastisement appears to be … a kind of divine pedagogy, in which the last word is reserved to mercy: He scourges and then shows mercy, casts down to the depths of the nether world, and he brings up from the great abyss (Tobit 13:2). The idea here is that in order to capture our attention or to highlight how we have not lived out our covenant-relationship with God as we should, there are times when God uses events in life to
draw us back to the quality of relationship or faith that we should have.
The concept of punishment, however, has a different sense. The Catechism of the Church observes that punishment is the consequence of a damaging action that has the primary aim of redressing the disorder and to protect the community and the common good from further damage or harm (see no. 2266). Although we always hope that someone who is being punished for a crime or some other harmful action will learn from their actions, punishment isn’t necessarily intended to teach a lesson in the same way that a chastisement is.
Ultimately, how we make the distinction between chastisement and punishment is a matter of discernment. As with almost everything in life, our experiences can be an opportunity for grace — or for something less — depending on how open we are to recognizing the movement of God’s Spirit within them.