Thursday, 28 November 2013

Of prayer and snakes


A quickie... Out for a lunch of dim sum today, and a visit to my favourite Chinese shop. A customer was buying incense sticks. As the friendly assistant wrapped them she asked: "So, do you pray?" When were you last asked that in a shop? Or anywhere? I even sometimes feel shy about asking that of a new directee and take great care to wrap it up as a nice "open question". 

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this sign, which made me smile. And synchronously (is that a word?) this quotation from St John Chrysostom came my way this morning and made me think...

The Lord, however, does want them [i.e. his disciples] to contribute something, lest everything seem to be the work of grace, and they seem to win their reward without deserving it. Therefore he adds: You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves...

The Lord counselled the disciples to be not simply clever or innocent; rather he joined the two qualities so that they become a genuine virtue. He insisted on the cleverness of the snake so that deadly wounds might be avoided, and he insisted on the innocence of the dove so that revenge might not be taken on those who injure or lay traps for you. Cleverness is useless without innocence.

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