How do you define wisdom? Etymologically, the word wise comes from the Old Saxon word for seeing, while -dom connotes being in a state of. So wisdom is then being in a state of seeing. In terms of our texts this weekend, the implied idea is one of seeing as one ought, that is, as God sees – which sounds kind of impossible, right? Yet, in our reading from the Book of Wisdom, Solomon asks for this quality, wisdom, knowing it is a treasure to see as God sees. In the Old Testament, intimacy with Wisdom is essentially intimacy with God, God sharing God's understanding with humankind. How do we access it? As with Solomon, we begin with prayer, and with the proper disposition, being open to receiving God’s wisdom. We are human, and therefore limited; there is much we can’t do. With God, though, anything is possible, so asking for wisdom is perhaps not all that farfetched. And having wisdom, then, means living a life in which you can see creation through God’s eyes, and act accordingly.
This Sunday’s psalm is one prayer we might use when we pray for wisdom. In it, the psalmist recognizes our inescapable humanity, our own limitations – we are dust, changeable as the changing grass – yet we must seek to number [our] days aright, to grow in wisdom of heart so that we might live life to the fullest in relationship with God.
In the New Testament, it is through our union with Christ in baptism and in Eucharist that we are introduced to and participate in divine wisdom, and are thus introduced into intimacy with God. So what’s new here? Wisdom, Jesus tells the crowds traveling with him in Luke's gospel, begins with total commitment to God: If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Seems pretty harsh, at first read. But if total commitment leads to wisdom that opens and deepens and enriches everything that we are about, then that wisdom will enhance all of our relationships, so long as we first see with God’s eyes, and live justly, not concerned with possessions or any obstacle, material or human, that gets in the way of our relationship with God.
And there is no lack of examples to follow. In his letter to Philemon, Paul calls upon the new follower of Jesus to act from within a knowledge of specifically Christian wisdom, to see his former slave Onesimus as God sees him, and to welcome him, to receive him into community as a beloved brother. It is wisdom – seeing as God sees – in action.
Pray for wisdom today, and every day, and see if your own vision changes as a result!
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.Photo source