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from fathers desk

Dear Friends in Christ,

Wisdom. Wisdom is a hard topic. It is the kind of thing we recognize but struggle to define. We know it when we see it but precisely describing wisdom can elude us. Growing up, Mom used to call me a “wise guy,” but I think she had something different in mind. 

Scriptures have a lot to say about wisdom. We read in several places, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Pr 9:10; Jb 28:28; Ps 111:10 - and elsewhere.)​​ With slight variations this line emerges multiple times. Often a morally upright life serves as the counterpoint. By that I mean avoiding evil, welcoming discipline, and not shirking asceticism coincides with the path to wisdom. Such putting our lives in order, by sowing the seeds of virtue and plucking the weeds of vice, runs alongside of fearing the Lord and seeking Wisdom. Hence, wisdom follows after a well-ordered existence that includes the fear of the Lord. 

We can approach wisdom as an integration. Wisdom integrates knowledge and experience with understanding. Simple enough? We benefit from our knowledge and our experiences. When many things we have learned and lessons from life come together with understanding, wisdom emerges. How many cliches exist to remind us to learn from our experiences! Now what of understanding, that has its own derivations and long history? Literally meaning to stand among things, understanding suggests the proper perspective. Thus, wisdom emerges from standing between knowledge and experience in the right way or having the skill and experience to take the proper perspective from among our different sources of knowledge. Wisdom is the rocking chair in the right spot in the room, to catch the winter light, the summer breeze and all the smells in the kitchen.

Today in the Gospel (Mk 13:24-32) Jesus warns of the coming tribulation. He advises the disciples to “learn the lesson of the fig tree,” meaning to be able to anticipate how and when the end will approach so we won’t be caught off guard. Jesus notes that although no one knows the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come, signs will exist that can be read by those with eyes to see. We might say, by those blessed with wisdom, those who know how to stand among all the variables of life and “read” the signs.

How do we gain that perspective? Many folks with lives full of experience are not wise and many others with heads full of knowledge fall short. Wisdom is about learning to see from the “correct” perspective. And which viewpoint offers a better perspective than God’s? God is the one who sees all, knows all, loves all, and anticipates all - if we can even call it anticipation since that suggests time and God is outside of time in the eternal “now.” So, after putting our lives in order by keeping the commandments, striving to see things as God does is the next step. Gaining his perspective requires prayer, daily quiet time, especially with the Scriptures. When we settle in and meditate on the Word, the gift of discernment begins to take root in our hearts. We begin to see. Dialogue with our Lord offers us his vantage point.

Last week, we spoke about vocations and the “Called by Name” campaign. Two key pieces relate to prayer. First, we are encouraged to spend time asking God to bring to our minds young men who may be called to a life of service as priests. Second, we need to impress upon everyone the need for daily dialogue. The question is not, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” but “What is God’s plan for my life?” The latter requires prayer, a listening heart, a willingness to examine our assumptions, but all with the confidence that God loves us, has a plan for us and desires us to find the fullness of life for which God made us. 

While the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, prayer is also paramount. What is on your heart to share with God this week?

In Christ, 

Fr. Joel Wilson