Fr. Scott Lewis, S.J

Fr. Scott Lewis, S.J

Fr. Scott Lewis is an associate professor of New Testament at Regis College, a founding member of the Toronto School of Theology.

He is a past president of the Canadian Catholic Biblical Association.
October 1, 2015

The value of wisdom

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 11 (Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30)

You must run for your life in the face of a natural disaster. If you could take only your most precious possession, what would it be? Your car or house? Perhaps your financial portfolio or family heirlooms? The author of Wisdom had definite ideas on the matter, and his answer might be surprising to many. All the precious and valuable things in the world pale in comparison to his prize — the gift of wisdom. He heaped up superlatives singing wisdom’s praises and demonstrating how it is superior to everything else, even power, glory, gold and precious stones.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 4 (Genesis 2:7ab, 15, 18-24; Psalm 128; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16)

Adam means of the earth, and that is part of what we are. In this symbolic teaching story — Adam and Eve were not historical individuals — Adam was created from the ground itself. God breathed the spirit into Adam and he became a living being. A long parade of living creatures followed, and Adam named them all, implying power over them. But living beings were created for companionship and relationship, and the lack of that was soon evident. Eve was created from Adam, but that does not imply dependence or inferiority.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 27 (Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48)

Religion is all about power — that is the judgment of many cynics and skeptics. While this is too harsh a judgment and suffers from a lack of nuance and balance, it contains an element of truth. People sense the power and energy that flows from a close relationship with God and they guard it jealously. Boundaries and rules are established, as well as ways of determining who is in or out, worthy or unworthy. Tight control is maintained over who is allowed to exercise power.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 20 (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37)

Why was Wisdom’s holy and righteous man such an inviting target? One would think that an inspiring example of goodness and righteousness would be welcome. But truly upright individuals generate a lot of resentment, guilt and anger. Their presence can provoke a nagging sense of what we could or should be.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 6 (Isaiah 35:4-7; Psalm 146; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37)

Do not fear! This call echoes throughout both the Old and New Testaments. It was often the greeting of an angel, intended to calm the fright of the person for whom they were bearing a message. It was uttered by Jesus on numerous occasions to pacify the terror of His followers — usually when He did something unusual, such as walking to them across the water. These were often the words of God, comforting the people after disaster and calamity and giving them hope for the future.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 13 (Isaiah 50:5-9; Psalm 116; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35)

There is no shortage of individuals claiming to be agents and proclaimers of God’s will. Unfortunately, many of them represent nothing more than their own opinions, fears, prejudices and desires. Stripped of the cloak of God-talk, their words, thoughts and actions usually have little if anything to do with God. Often they divide or exclude people, stir up negative thoughts and emotions, and even end in violence that they believe is divinely sanctioned.

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 30 (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Psalm 15; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

Obedience to rules and laws, especially those of a religious nature, is not popular with many people. Often there is a good reason — we lose sight of the logic behind them, or they fail to take real-life situations into account. They become an end in themselves rather than tools for something greater.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 23 (Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:32-5:1-2, 21-32; John 6:53, 60-69)

The people of God had finally entered the Promised Land. Their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness was over and the dream of a new home had been fulfilled. Joshua, the successor to Moses, was growing old and not long for the Earth, so he gathered Israel together for a renewal of the covenant with God. He reminded them of all that God had done for them, and exhorted them to choose whom they wanted to serve.

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 16 (Proverbs 9:16; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58)

What is wisdom? It is certainly not intelligence in the usual sense of the word, nor is it human cleverness. Quite the opposite: wisdom is the divine gift that flows from humility, simplicity of heart and thoughtful, prayerful, reflection on one’s life experience.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 9 (1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51)

Elijah couldn’t take another step. He had been running for his life from the wicked queen Jezebel and her henchmen. He was so exhausted that he even prayed that God would take his life. Who has not felt like that at one time or another in their life?