liturgy of the Church today returns to Ordinary Time, following
the closing of the Easter Season with the Great Feast of Pentecost.
In the outpouring of God’s Spirit one of the most precious
gifts we receive is the gift of wisdom. Today’s first reading
invites us to meditate on wisdom and her power in our lives.
Wisdom is nearly always characterized in feminine terms in the Old
Testament and is sometimes described as a lavish hostess who has
laid a banquet with her abundance, which is one of many analogies
for the Eucharist. In today’s reading, however, we find that
wisdom gives us the power to see created reality as God does. To
recognize the height and depth, the width and breadth of all that
is. Is this reserved only for eternity? Or is this gift really only
given to the mystics?
The Church’s tradition insists that the Spirit of wisdom is
granted most particularly through the Sacrament of Confirmation,
but where ever there is an outpouring of the Spirit, Wisdom is the
first gift. It is perhaps also the highest of the Spiritual gifts,
for what we can “see” we can know. Thus to see with
God’s sight is to know – especially to know the truth;
the truth about created realities, the truth about our own hearts,
the truth about God, and God’s infinite compassion.
It seems to me that this is a gift we desperately need in a cultural
context that all too often wants us to be content with lies. Oh,
it isn’t that people are deliberately scheming behind our
backs to keep reality of being known, but rather that the truth
is often too “harsh” for our tender sensibilities to
absorb. A number of years ago, while teaching high school in an
academy filled with “young ladies of material means”
I was charged with communicating the Catholic Social Justice teachings
to them. In an assignment, I had them keep track of all the money
they spent or that was spent on them for a thirty day period (obviously
their parents had to cooperate in this venture). When they accomplished
this, they were assigned to look up the statistics on annual family
incomes for a family of four in three different countries of the
world that happen to be described as “third or fourth world
nations” by economists, and draw some comparisons with their
own personal budgets. At the end of the exercise we spent several
classes discussing their findings and the experience they had of
making the discoveries about themselves and their world. It was
not a process the girls enjoyed as they priced their prom gowns,
limo rental and other incidentals of spring social events, and one
young lady said it best when she cried out in some anguish: “I
don’t want to know this stuff – I want to be ignorant
so I can enjoy my parties in peace!”
Perhaps this anguish is too like the demonic spirit of today’s
Gospel. It binds us with deafness, renders our speech inarticulate
and blinds us. Ah, lady wisdom, don’t give us your lavish
gifts . . . if we know the truth we will feel compelled to act with
courage and compassion . . . how will we enjoy our parties, our
new toys, our befuddled self images. How can we bear the truth when
it will make our lives so uncomfortable!
“Oh faithless generation!” Jesus chides us. “How
long will I endure you?” Does he speak so to us who have squandered
the gift of Wisdom that the Father poured out through him upon us?
Since only prayer will drive out such demons – let us pray.