July 5, 2015
ORDINARY 14 (B)
What kind of wisdom has been given him? – Mark 6: 2
Most of us today have little or no time for the pursuit of wisdom through serious, uninterrupted, silent reflection about who we are & what we ought to do with our lives. An anonymous writer has given us this story of an American tourist’s visit to a Nineteenth Century Polish Rabbi who was looked upon by his people as an extremely wise & saintly person:
On his arrival at the rabbi’s residence, the tourist was astonished to discover that it consisted of only one simple room. The walls were lined with books. A table & a chair were the only furnishings. “Rabbi,” the tourist asked, “Where is your furniture?” The rabbi replied, “Where is yours?” “Where is mine?” said the puzzled tourist. “I’m only a visitor here, just passing through.” “So am I,” answered the rabbi, “So am I!”
Any feeble attempt at wisdom we might make is crippled by a notion of “success” as the ability to acquire knowledge for personal gain. We have reached the point where our capacity to gather, store & interpret data is almost limitless. Yes, this has brought some good things, but we need to be reminded that it has also brought us some problems & complications that humans have never faced before.
Both as a society & as individuals, we are acquiring knowledge at breakneck speed without slowing down – ever – to reflect on how to handle it, what to do with it, & how to use it for uplifting the human spirit. When I was an undergraduate at Georgia Tech, I gradually realized that I was becoming a human computer without any basis for evaluating whether or not this knowledge could be put to use for good or evil. Some years later, I was involved in a discussion with a group of students as to whether or not a recently discovered biological technique should be used or not. One student said, “If we can do it, we should!” I replied, “I CAN kill you. Does that mean I should?”
In the parable of the ten bridesmaids, Jesus tells us that true wisdom consists of knowing how & when to prepare for death. Foresight is the beginning of true wisdom. Living wisely means looking ahead & acknowledging that we are tourists on God’s earth – only passing through. Living wisely means recognizing our dependence on God, not only for life, but also for a way of life.
Living wisely means developing a lifestyle that, in itself, is an act of faith in God’s promise of fulfillment when the tourist season of life is over. In our fast-paced, fact gathering society, pursuing true wisdom is like swimming upstream. Yet it is becoming increasingly clear to me that that is precisely what we need to do.
How do we live? This question cannot be answered on the level of intellect alone. The answer requires a wisdom that proceeds from the combined resources of heart & soul & mind. The true source of all wisdom is, of course, God Himself. To discover the meaning of life (Scripture tells us) we must be in touch with God with ALL our heart & soul & mind. We pursue true wisdom only to the extent that we are in touch with God on this level.
Because He was merely a carpenter’s son, the people of Jesus’ hometown refused to take Him seriously. If we have a deep & abiding faith in the resurrection power of God, then we can take the teachings of our Lord seriously enough to aspire to live wisely with all our heart & soul & mind. “What kind of wisdom has been given Him?” It is the wisdom of God, which we need not only to take seriously but also to pass it on! If our world is a dangerous place, it is because we have been without this kind of wisdom for far too long. AMEN!