Remember the kids magazine Highlights?
I loved that magazine and spent a lot of time pouring over it while waiting in doctors', dentists' and piano teachers' offices. Finding pictures throughout the magazine, finding hidden pictures in a scene, reading the jokes and riddles, and looking at the art work of other kids were some of my favorite features.
My most favorite page, though, was Goofus and Gallant, a sketch that laid the actions of a "naughty boy" along side the actions of a "respectful and helpful" young man.
Goofus was always hurting someone, missing the opportunity to serve, being lazy, and being disrespectful and selfish while Gallant was living up to his name. I think I learned a lot of morality, conduct and "how to get along" with others from that column.
In today's reading, the Proverbs compare a wise Gallant to a foolish Goofus.
A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son grief to his mother.
What interests me is the parallelism. When one sees the wise one and the fool side by side in the Proverbs, one can definitely see the way of righteousness versus the way of thoughtless living.
Wisdom brings joy to the father. Fathers delight in their children's successes. Their chests swell with pride and they pass out the cigars as if to have people join them in congratulations of success.
But foolishness brings grief to the mother. Mothers seem to bear an immense amount of grief, shame, sorrow and worry over their children's mistakes and poor choices. In fact, most mothers stress out even when their children are making wise choices, wondering when the shoe will drop and disaster will hit.
I'm also interested in the ripple effect of our choices. The wisdom writer of Proverbs shares that our choices go way beyond ourselves. We are so connected one to the other that there is no such thing as "living on our own" or "freedom to choose" in the community of faith.
Paul goes as far as to say that even if something is okay for us but would make a brother or sister stumble, we must stay away from it, especially in their presence.
A goof, a slip, a weak moment, a foolish word can destroy.
Wisdom is not just a mental exercise; it is a way of life which builds up a gallant community of faithful living.