Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare, Ireland, has had a matchmaking festival in September for over 130 years. Traditionally, farmers of all ages from all over Ireland and beyond would go there to find a suitable wife and ladies a good husband. Willie Daly, the current matchmaker with his 150 year old “Lucky book”, carries on the tradition of making the perfect match between people. Online Dating, a complete industry in itself together with Speed Dating, form the more modern equivalent of finding a partner.
“A perfect wife – who can find her?” The opening question from the Book of Proverbs our first reading today. How does that question in itself sit in a [Western?] world, a culture more attuned to equality and a more even playing field? The proverbs in this book of the Bible reflect the practices of an ancient culture using metaphor, exaggeration, and other techniques to express their truth. The proverbs are guidelines to make decisions in life, but they are not exhaustive for every time and every situation. Often the proverbs will need to be applied to our own lives by peeling away the literary form and the cultural situation of ancient Israel to find the essential truth. With that in mind, let’s adjust the language somewhat and see how it holds up: the good wife or husband for that matter, is an industrious homemaker, shrewd at business, an enterprising trader; a generous benefactor and trustworthy with wealth and reputation. That’s a fairly good profile for any woman or man. “They are far beyond the price of pearls!”