The lessons in today's Daily Office readings seem in conflict. In Psalm 72, the people pray for God to work through a king who will make everything perfect. As observed here before, the psalms don't always show us where our hearts should go; sometimes, they show us where our hearts are. Today's continuing portion of Ecclesiastes reminds us that banking on a ruler to fix everything may not be the best plan:
The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouting of a ruler among fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war. 9:17-18
In the middle of the 400's A.D., Attila the Hun was terrorizing the European continent. After demolishing Milan and other parts of northern Italy, he was moving toward Rome. Pope Leo I went out to dissuade him from sacking the city with two other emissaries. Historians give varied accounts of how Pope Leo persuaded the insatiable Attila to turn away from the city. The one that rings true to me is a report that Leo cautioned Attila about a raging and contagious plague in Rome.
Whatever he said, "quiet words of the wise" spared Rome. How do we find quiet words of the wise for our time and its challenges? "Quiet" might be the key word here. We take time to listen and look. Then we process. Then we listen for the Spirit's guidance. It's still a great recipe over 1500 years after Pope Leo.
Pastor Kathleen Kelly,
Invasion of the Barbarians
by Ulpiano Checa, 1887, showing the dreaded Hun cavalry