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Wisdom with a Capital ‘W’

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“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” ~ Daniel 12:3

“Undeniably great is the mystery of devotion” says Paul to his young protege Timothy in today’s 1st Reading (1 TM 3:14-17) wherein the great prophet reminds him that the household of God is the Church of the living God. Of this he proclaims of Jesus in the waning words of the passage:

“Who was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed to the Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.”

This passage, a hymn in actuality, describes how Jesus became Savior, for both Jew and Gentile alike, and how he was “taken up in glory” so as to sit at the right hand of God (1 TM 3:16).

In today’s Gospel (Luke 7:31-35) Jesus speaks of the spiritual gift of wisdom, that glorious virtue which is “vindicated by all her children.” (7:35). As we see in today’s passage and all throughout the Gospels, the Pharisees were adept at calling out rule infractions, but were severely lacking in their ability to recognize true wisdom and fear of the Lord. It’s something we’re all susceptible to.

Whereas Jesus came eating bread and drinking wine, John the Baptist was steeped in the discipline of fasting, an aficionado of locusts and wild honey when not engaged in his charism. But despite the contrasts in the way they went about their ministries, both Jesus and John the Baptist were shown to be, by virtue of their actions, true children of God. It was their righteous deeds that earned them vindication before God.

Jesus tells us we will live in his love if we keep his Commandments (John 15:10). God’s grace provides the power to obey the Commandments, hence, to love, and to live a truly human and a truly Catholic Christian existence. It was Saint Augustine who said “To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of eternal things; to knowledge, the rational knowledge of temporal things.” As children of God, we too have a yearning, an aching for wisdom.

Wisdom is what we are to pursue, a gift of the Holy Spirit far more valuable than treasure or jewels, power or prestige, influence or authority. So how does one grow in this most coveted of virtues?

Realization of the fact that there does exist a difference between mere earthly wisdom and the “wisdom that comes from above” (James 3:14–18) is a good start. Tapping into God’s wisdom requires a strong desire to do so. Through prayer we must ardently ask, so that it may be given to us, seek, so that we may find it, and knock, so that wisdom’s door may be open to us. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). Ask unceasingly. Ask unwaveringly.

We must also come to the understand that true wisdom comes from God and that his Son Jesus is wisdom personified. To trust in Jesus and obey the Holy Spirit, regardless of what she commands of you, is to walk in the ways of wisdom.

Love of God, the greatest of all the Commandments, is required as well. It was Saint Augustine who said “To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of eternal things; to knowledge, the rational knowledge of temporal things.” To have knowledge is to have understanding or information about something. To have wisdom is to have the ability to effectively apply knowledge throughout one’s spiritual journey. Those who possess the wisdom of God will show it in how they live: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13).

Allow yourself to be led by the wisdom of God. It is that which he desires for each and every one of his beloved children. It is that which brings one to the threshold of eternal life.