Grace to you!
Today’s reflection focuses on the gift of wisdom. Permit me to use a different style in relating the content so as to explain some necessary aspects of the teaching.
Generally, many people regard wisdom as a skill born out of experience, training, relationships and networking. The Christian notion of wisdom is different. Wisdom is not simply a skill, or a talent acquired by experience or training but a gift of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit. And the fullness of this wisdom, in Christian worldview is a person.
Wisdom is listed in the prophesy of Isaiah 11:2-3 as one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, or properly called in Catholic Christian phraseology, the seven traditional gifts of the Holy Spirit. The first verse of this text of Isaiah introduces the granting of this gift from a source, identified as flowing from the stock of Jesse. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). The above prophesy refers to the Messiah, the son of David who is the son of Jesse, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the mystic prayer of Wisdom in the book of Wisdom chapter 9 attributed to King Solomon, wisdom is equally identified with one who sits with God; one in equality with God as the imagery depicts. Wisdom is identified as a person not simply a quality. “Give me the wisdom that sits by your throne” (Wisdom 9:4). A similar notion is expressed in the New Testament, but in a more vivid way. The Gospel of John introduces the Good News with reference to the logos. “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God and the logos was God” (John 1:1). “And the logos became fresh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Logos was translated and could be translated as word, wisdom or reason.
Wisdom in the Christian tradition is the person of the Son; it flows from God and is granted to believers. Thus, for a person to have wisdom, it must be gifted him or her. It is the gift of God, from the Father through the Son who is the Wisdom of God and by the Holy Spirit. As the Catholic tradition holds, this gift of wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit granted to believers through the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit. The sanctifying grace enables the believer to be holy and have an habitual life of God, or the seal of God.
The bible is clear on how the wisdom is a gift from God. “For even if one is perfect among the sons of men yet without the wisdom that comes from you (emphasis mine) he will be regarded as nothing” (Wisdom 9:6). Because wisdom is a gift from God, the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can pray and ask for it and God will supply it. King Solomon prayed for it and received it: “I prayed, and understanding was given to me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me” (Wisdom 7:7).
What is the nature of this wisdom? It is the gift from God through the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit that enables us to penetrate the mysteries of God and see things, reality, events, and indeed, everything as God sees them. It is the gift that enables us to perceive everything in their right perspective. Wisdom helps us to understand the place of God and his sovereignty over all as well as the place of humanity and the rest of creation as God’s created beauty.
By seeing things in the light of God, that is their right perspective, wisdom enables us to properly prioritize as well as come really close to God’s plan, the will of God in every situation of our lives. God’s delight will begin to be our delight. God’s priority becomes our priority and God’s distaste will become our distaste.
By wisdom, the will of God will no longer be a stranger to us. It will not be something accidental to our will and our nature but will become our own delight too. Wisdom is a habit of the soul making our intellect align with God’s will and plans.
As I have said, the life of wisdom enables us to prioritize. I need to make some applications of this reality about the gift of wisdom. Wisdom makes us know the value and the reason for who we are, what we have and the very purpose for our lives. Take for instance wealth. Wisdom equips us to see wealth from God’s point of view as an instrumental cause instead of the final cause (to use the terminology of St. Thomas Aquinas). Wealth would not be seen as the end in itself but a means to an end.
The wise know how to use wealth as good stewards, not as hoarders or wasteful spendthrifts. They use wealth for self, for family, and for the well being of others in generosity and almsgiving, knowing that they are blessed so as to bless others.
In the Gospel of Mark 10:17-30, a rich aristocrat—young, smart, highly connected and wealthy—, came face to face with Jesus, the wisdom of God. In spite of the young man’s exceptional religiosity, including humility which is rare for a young accomplished man, he asked how to reach eternal life.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, acknowledged the young aristocrat had done all things well. He had kept the law (ten commandments) from childhood, but he was lacking in wisdom. He could not realize that his blessings weren’t for him alone but for many others. He could not connect the dots that though the right to own property, wealth is private, personal, but the use of it has social implications and demands. He was a hoarder, attached to his wealth. He lacked wisdom, even though in the eyes of the world, many might argue he is a wise man to have accomplished much at his age.
The encounter with Jesus was difficult for him. It was difficult to take the challenge of Jesus because, as the bible says, “He was a wealthy man.” He had come with a wrong impression about heaven. He wanted to earn it as he had earned his wealth. He relied on his ability without realizing the great gift of wisdom from God and the grace of real transformation that comes when we are ready to detach from stuff and align our will with God’s.
From this encounter, Jesus makes a chilling and honest declaration about how unwise attachment to wealth or anything whatsoever we have is to the detriment of the intent of the Creator for giving us those blessings. “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mk 10:24-25).
We learn from this text that it would take a lot of stooping, literally crawling, which means humility, detachment, and ultimately the gift of wisdom for a rich man to enter into heaven. It would be less difficult for a camel that has to stoop so low to the point of crawling with its stomach to pass through the eye of a needle (the small gate, the only access to the city when the main gate is closed).
Pray with me, “Lord, let your wisdom be with us to help us and to work with us.” Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[28thSunday Ordinary Time B: Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.