Sunday Readings: September 8, 2013

St Dominic with BibleWIS 9:13-18b; PHMN 9-10, 12-17; LK 14: 25-33

This week’s readings teach us about our need to cling to the divine wisdom.

The reading from the Book of Wisdom gives the main theme: Who could know the counsels of the Lord? The divine perspective is beyond us – unless he himself gives it to us.

Wisdom explains the problem: the corruptible body weighs us down.  Now, even the angels cannot see unaided into the depths of God.  But the problem is far worse for us.

First, because, as bodily creatures, we only see the surface of things, always shifting.  Whether it’s our neighbor’s heart or the true significance of a situation Providence has placed us in, our knowledge is only skin deep.  God’s vision is on a deeper level.

But this is all the worse because of sin.  We are victims not only to the shallowness of our vision “out there,” but even more to our own shallowness “in here.”  So often, my judgment is based less on real insight than on hunger, sleepiness, pleasure, or pain.

How can I see the real meaning of things unless God sends his spirit from on high to open my eyes?

St. Paul’s brief letter to Philemon shows us one of the most important ways this plays out.  Onesimus is Philemon’s slave, but Paul says that in Christ, they are brothers.  The dynamic is universal.  Trapped in the shallowness of my fleshly vision, I see others in terms of use rather than love.  Even my children can seem more like inconveniences than like brothers: they ought to serve me!  A fortiori the people I work with.

To see the real preciousness of other people requires a vision deeper than my own.  I need God to show me: to show me their goodness, our common eternal destiny in him, the goodness of communion – and, too, the wounds that they and I bear that make relationships so hard.  Only God’s wisdom can take me from seeing others in terms of how they can serve me, to seeing a brother or sister in the Lord.

And then Jesus takes us to the heart of the matter in the Gospel.  If you are going to build a tower, he says, you need to count the cost.  More to the point, he says we need to pick up our cross.  That is the cost of discipleship: the cross of Christ.  But it is also the great benefit of discipleship: we walk with Christ, with whom the yoke is easy.

Above all, devotion to the wisdom of God means looking to the Cross, to the way it calls me both to die to my fleshy selfishness, but also into the goodness of life in Christ.

How then do we live these readings?  Through devotion to the wisdom of God.

We live devotion to God’s wisdom every time we look at Jesus, on the Cross, in the arms of Mary, or wherever else.  To say the names of Jesus and Mary is to express our need for his wisdom, his perspective.

We live devotion to God’s wisdom through the sacraments.  The Eucharist isn’t just about fancy liturgy (though that’s nice too).  Above all, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament gives us the grace to worship as he worships, to enter into his perspective.  Jesus in the Confessional gives us the grace to see our sin as he sees it, and to reject it as he rejects it.  In Baptism Jesus draws us into his new way of being.  When we participate in these sacraments, even indirectly – for example, by visiting a tabernacle, saying a prayer of longing for the Eucharist, making a sincere examination of conscience or act of repentance – we proclaim our desire to see as he sees: send your wisdom from on high!  Every time we use holy water, we say, “Jesus, I want to live my baptism, to be plunged into your death and resurrection, to see as you see.”

And we live devotion to God’s wisdom through devotion to Scripture.  Lectio divina isn’t just about the immediate lesson we learn today.  It’s about immersing ourselves in God’s word, God’s way of seeing.  It’s about spending time with him and his wisdom.

eric.m.johnston

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