WHO IS WISDOM?: A HOMILY ON THE 28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B. By Fr. IFEANYICHUKWU HENRY NWOKORO CSsR, IBADAN
WHO IS WISDOM?
I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preffered her to sceptres and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her. Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her. I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases. All good things came to me along with her, and in her hands uncounted wealth: Wisdom here can be understood in two ways. First is wosdom as an attribute, as we often talk of a wise person. But secondly, we can talk of the personified wisdom. This is manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, the eternal wisdom. So when Solomon asked for wisdom, he was not just asking for an attribute. He was also asking for a person. To have wisdom is to have everything. This also means that to have Jesus is to have everything. To be wise is to be able to discover for oneself what is more important and what is less important. One thing a wise person discovers is that life is short, no matter how long it lasts. Even if a person should live up to 120 years of age, it is still nothing compared to eternity. This is why in the Psalm we hear ‘Teach us to number our days, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Turn back, O Lord! How long? Show pity to your servants’. When we discover how short our life is, then we begin to question the use of all the things we spend our lives chasing.
There are three things that we spend a lot of energy chasing, namely, wealth, health and beauty. We see thing on how much energy we put into chasing money, how much we put into being healthy and how much we put into being beautiful. If we watch the television and listen to radio advertisements, it is all about quick ways of making money, by investing little or nothing, how to be healthy through all kinds of medicines, exercises and food, as well as how to look as beautiful as possible though clothing and different kinds of fashion. When we consider the shortness of our lives, what is the use of investing all our energy and resources on these things?
Those who pursue wealth, health and beauty at the expense of eternal life get dissapointed in three ways. First, they may not get what they seek as much as they seek it; they get little or nothing, then they are dissapointed. Secondly, they may get what they wanted and be dissapointed to realise it is not as satisfying as they thought it will be. Thirdly, they may be dissappointed to discover that it does not follow them after life. To be truly wise is to discover that life is too short and that the things of this world are not as satisfying as they appear to be. To be truly wise is to realise that eternal life is not just about the length of time, but also about the quality of the life. Eternal life comes with wealth, health and beauty in a very mysterious way.
WHO IS THE WORD?
The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any two-edged sward, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him whom we have to do. : The word of God can also be understood both as a factulty as well as a person. The word of God is not only word as the factulty of a person, but it is also personified in Jesus Christ, as we read in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, “The word was made fless, and dwelt among us.” Little wonder it says the word is living and active. The word of God is also the wisdom of God. You only know the wisdom of God by listening to his word. Jesus Christ is both the wisdom of God and the Word of God personified. Through him we gain true wisdom. To have him is to be truly rich. He is the food that truly keeps us healthy. Following him creates in us the beauty, not just of the body, but also of the soul, that which no cosmetics can give.
At that time: As Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honour your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” At that saying his countainance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a carmel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God. Peter began to say to him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”: A man who weighs 70kg has 3 balls, each weighing 10kg. He is about to cross a bridge which can only carry 80kg. He is only allowed to cross the bridge once. How can he carry all three balls across the bridge? He can only carry all three balls in his hands and as soon as he steps on the bridge he can flip two in the air and as each one lands in his hand he flips the one he is holding up untill he crosses the bridge. Well, that is quite a difficult one to do, especially for someone who doesnt have such tallents. Maybe the wise thing to do will be to give two away, if crossing the bridge is so important to him. He has to weigh the value of keeping the balls against the value of crossing the bridge.
If crossing this bridge is seen as going to heaven, and each ball represents wealth, health and beauty, then what is true wisdom? To keep the balls which are only valuable for at most 100 years, or to give the balls away and enter into a life that is not just for eternity, but also infinitely more satisfying than the balls.
Once I was about to fly from Port Elizabeth to Johannessburg. I had two bags, not knowing I was only allowed one bag. I saw a man who had no bag and I begged him if he can claim one of my bags as his own, so that when we got to Johannesburg he can return it to me. He did not know me, so he refused. But then I realised this is what Jesus meant. When you give to the poor, they help you to cross what you have to the other side. If the eye of a needle can only carry so much, it means that you can only pass through it with so much. If you really want to cross over with all your bags, you have to give up ownership of them, and allow someone else to claim ownership of them. And when you get to heaven, they will give it back to you. Eventually I had to pay for extra luggage. If your luggage is so important to you that you cannot let another have it, you may have to pay with more than I did. It could cost you your whole life.
Jesus is not asking us to sell our houses or neglect our families, or go bankrupt. He is asking us that in dealing with these things, we should always remember the shortness of life in the world and always compare it to eternal life, and decide which one is more vauable. We live in a world where we give more attention to the things of this world and little attention to the things of heaven. We maximise the minimum and minimise the maximum. But when we become truly wise, we will maximise the maximum and minimise the minimum. Being rich is not about how much we have, but about how much we hold on to what we have. So even those who have negative bank ballance can be rich, if they hold on too tightly to their desire to be rich than to their desire for eternal life. The big question is, which is stronger in your mind, the desire for the things that make this world more enjoyable or your love for Jesus?
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise….