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God's Word on Sunday: We need gift of wisdom to see the light

  • October 3, 2021

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

Daily financial reports are the lifeblood of the economy. We receive constant reports of the current market value of stocks, natural resources and precious metals. Fortunes rise and fall on fluctuations in their value. One quotation we will never find, however, is the value of wisdom.

King Solomon — to whom the authorship of Wisdom was traditionally ascribed — insisted that wisdom is far more valuable than money, gold, precious gems or earthly power. In comparison, these things are practically worthless. And its value never fades — it is constant and brilliant.

Wisdom is not to be confused with knowledge. Misused, as it often is, knowledge can be destructive. We are overwhelmed by mountains of facts but lack the wisdom that will show us how to use this knowledge in a positive way. Wisdom is the ability to discern what is holy, right and just. It leads us to make decisions that are not only pleasing to God but contribute to the common good and the well-being and happiness of others.

In the era in which Wisdom was composed, it was believed that wisdom was a gift from God and could only enter humble souls that were prepared to receive it. Those given to arrogance, pride or injustice would never be wise. Wisdom was described in terms very similar to the Spirit and the gifts that it brought were similar.

In a time of fake news, alternate “facts,” conspiracy theories and shear nonsense, perhaps a renewed focus on the gift of wisdom would be beneficial to us all. Truth is not the possession of those with the loudest voices, the most money or the greatest volume of tweets. It comes from God and will only serve God’s purposes, not those of humans.

Through the morass of darkness, lies, ignorance and ideologies, we need this gift so that we can once again discern the presence of the light. We recognize wisdom as the gift of incomparable value that should be sought above anything else.

The Word of God is infinitely more than the words written on a page of Scripture. It is the dynamic, creative energy and will of God as manifested in the world. We can encounter it in many ways: Scripture, holy people, events, personal encounters, art, music or even in the depths of pain and despair.

These all share one characteristic: The encounter with the Word leaves one changed forever. The Word strips us of all of our illusions — the lies we tell ourselves and others, and the lies we are willing to believe. It shows us what we actually are, but at the same time what we can become. The encounter with the Word awakens us spiritually and starts us on a new journey. It is offered to all; unfortunately, there are too few takers.

The story of the rich young man is neither a condemnation of him nor of the rich. The earnest young man standing before Jesus had a great record: He had kept all of the commandments and teachings of the tradition from his youth. And yet he sensed that there was something more.

He asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life.

Jesus looked on him with love, not disapproval. He sensed that the man still relied on his wealth and the privilege and protection it gave him. Jesus recommended that the man sell all, give to the poor and come and be His disciple. The treasure in Heaven that Jesus promised was spiritual awakening and enlightenment and a deepening experience of the divine reality.

The man was shocked and appalled and went away in a daze. This was just too much. Jesus marvelled at how difficult it was for the comfortable and contented to truly take those last few steps into the kingdom of God. Too much baggage of one kind or another! The apostles were perplexed — in that case, how can anyone enter the kingdom? Jesus insisted it was impossible for humans, but God can and will make all things possible.

Jesus had to soothe Peter’s ruffled feathers. Peter objected that they had given up everything to follow Jesus — so what was in it for them? Jesus insisted that no one ever loses out by obeying and serving God.

They would all receive back many times over in this world and the next, for God is exceedingly generous.

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