The practical consequences of religious belief

Religion is about belief and behavior.  How we behave depends on what we believe.  The “what” and “why” of life feed into each other.  By doing a certain thing we understand why we are doing it.  We start to do it by first believing it worthwhile.  Behavior is determined by belief, but belief is also determined by behavior.  Praxis is acting and doing.  Theory is thinking and understanding.  We live according to what we believe.  We believe according to the way we live.  There is a circular interplay.  True religion is an integrating force in our lives, so that the whole person is really an integrated personality.  Religion is not a view of life, but a way of living.  A person’s view of the world reflects a way of living.  We express our ethical beliefs in both a concrete and symbolic way.  We have to understand what is being done, in order to understand what is said.  Religion is a life style, not an idea.  Are you challenged to be yourself?  Do these religious practices increase your identity?  Do they challenge you to be freer?  Do they open new horizons?  Do they have value?  Is your human existence better off?  These are the questions you must ask about your religious practice.

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The blessing for those who trust in Yahweh (Jer 17:7-17:8)

“Blessed are those

Who trust in Yahweh!

Blessed are those

Whose trust is Yahweh!

They shall be

Like a tree

Planted by water.

It sends out its roots

By the stream.

It does not fear

When heat comes.

Its leaves shall stay green.

In the year of the drought,

It is not anxious.

It does not cease to bear fruit.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, wants to bless those who trust in him. They will be blessed if their trust rests with and in Yahweh. They will be like a tree planted by water with good roots. They, like the tree, will not fear when heat comes, because this well watered tree will stay green. Even if there is a drought, this tree will not be anxious, since it will not cease to bear fruit. Everything depends on trust.

God the creator (Isa 42:5-42:5)

“Thus says God!

Yahweh!

‘I created the heavens.

I stretched them out.

I spread forth the earth.

I spread forth what comes from it.

I give breath to the people upon it.

I give the Spirit to those who walk on it.’”

Another strong theme in Second Isaiah is God the creator. There is no doubt that God, Yahweh, is speaking here. He explicitly says that he created and stretched out the heavens and the earth below. He also spread out the earth and all its vegetation. He gives breath and the Spirit to all the people who walk on this earth. Everything depends on God, Yahweh.

Disciplined eating and sleeping (Sir 31:19-31:22)

“How ample a little is

For a well-disciplined person.

He does not breathe heavily

When in bed.

Healthy sleep depends

On moderate eating.

He rises early.

He feels fit.

The distress of sleeplessness

Is with the glutton.

The distress of nausea

Is with the glutton.

The distress of colic

Is with the glutton.

If you are overstuffed with food,

Get up to vomit.

You will have relief.

Listen to me!

My child!

Do not disregard me!

In the end,

You will appreciate my words.

In everything you do,

Be moderate!

No sickness will overtake you.”

If you are a well disciplined person, you do not need a lot of food. You should not breathe heavily or snore in bed. In fact, good sleep depends on moderate eating habits. If you get up early, you will feel fit. Being a glutton can cause sleeplessness, nausea, and indigestion. However, if you eat too much, just leave the table and go vomit. Thus we have a hint of bulimia. Sirach wants you to listen to his words. Do not disregard them, because you will appreciate them later in life. You should be moderate in all that you do, in order to avoid any kind of sickness.