How often do we read or hear something from Scripture, think we’ve wrapped our heads around it, and then later totally get blown out of the water by the same concept? Thank God for His mercy and willingness to teach us the same lessons over and over.
Take a look at today’s first reading:
Wisdom breathes life into her children-Sirach 4:11-19
and admonishes those who seek her.
He who loves her loves life;
those who seek her will be embraced by the Lord.
He who holds her fast inherits glory;
wherever he dwells, the LORD bestows blessings.
Those who serve her serve the Holy One;
those who love her the LORD loves.
He who obeys her judges nations;
he who hearkens to her dwells in her inmost chambers.
If one trusts her, he will possess her;
his descendants too will inherit her.
She walks with him as a stranger
and at first she puts him to the test;
Fear and dread she brings upon him
and tries him with her discipline
until she try him by her laws and trust his soul.
Then she comes back to bring him happiness
and reveal her secrets to them
and she will heap upon him
treasures of knowledge and an understanding of justice.
But if he fails her, she will abandon him
and deliver him into the hands of despoilers.
How many times have you thought of the word wisdom and already “known” what it meant? To illustrate this point, take a moment to think of the first name that comes to mind of somebody that embodies wisdom.
Who was it? Mr. Miyagi, right? Maybe Morpheus or Gandalf? If you’re lucky, maybe you thought of a spiritual mentor or family member.
Take it a step further: What makes them wise? What does God think is wise?
My wife and I chatted about this one for a while. It’s not really “head knowledge”, nor is it some Hollywood depiction of mysticism. My instinctual definitions of wisdom betrayed the fact that I hadn’t really considered the term from God’s eyes.
So we worked on a better definition, and arrived at 2 key features of a wise person: Peace and Perceptivity. Wise people seem to have an inside source on the way the world works (hm…who might that be?), which allows them to live as the fully integrated version of themselves. They are confident in their worldview and at home in themselves. They are perceptive enough to see movements of the Spirit in everyday events, even when Wisdom “puts him to the test”. Ever thought God was asking you to do something you didn’t want to? I can relate to that. Wise people actually do it.
Take some time to reflect on God’s call to pursue and possess Wisdom today. Think and pray about why today’s reading gives Wisdom the characteristics it does. Why is it a woman? Why does she walk with man as a stranger, then test him, then bring him happiness? I hope that even just a few moments with this dense verse will bless you today.
Dear fellow pilgrims,
Our readings today have a clear message: be humble, follow the Lord’s will and not your own. We can feel this message of “let him become a fool, so as to become wise” when we talk about our lives to some unbelievers whilst trying to explain decisions made by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, peace in prayer, and other ways of discernment. How do we explain if we left a job with no other job lined up because we “just knew” it was time through prayer? How do we explain not being truly worried about the amount of children we will eventually have? It’s impossible without a childlike trust and humility in our Lord’s provision for us and faithfulness to us. In a world where very intelligent people can chide religious people by telling us we trust in, essentially, a “flying spaghetti monster,” it is no wonder sometimes that we feel “foolish” in the eyes of the world. But this trust we have in our Lord is not truly foolish. We have tasted and seen that the Lord is, indeed, good. I pray all of us have some moment in our hearts we can go back to to ground us in times of unbelief or difficulty in faith where the only conclusions are that God is real and God loves us.
In our Gospel today, we see a moment like that happening frame-by-frame for St. Peter. He follows the direction of Jesus, who is clearly not an expert fisherman, after following his own experienced direction for quite some time and finding no luck in a catch. But this seemingly foolish move results in something so miraculous that he is struck with the fear of God: he is faced with a catch of fish so large that even his own equipment cannot hold it. His nets tear! What a beautiful image. This detail is speaking to me today:
Sometimes we think that it is because of our own equipment and knowledge that our lives are not going the way we planned. We have worked hard, using all of the knowledge that we have, and we are not seeing results or certain events happen in our life. But in this Gospel, we are reminded of Who holds every aspect of our lives in order. You can be as prepared for a giant catch, or desired result or happy moment, in your life as possible, have all the right equipment, but still, in that moment of fulfillment, you may also an inadequacy in receiving it. Your nets may rip, your mind and heart may fall short of receiving what Jesus is giving you. It may all seem too much and actually a threat to your life instead of a blessing. But these moments, especially, so potently remind us that the Lord does not give purely according to when we fulfill some formula or when we meet a holiness or readiness quote. God is not like humans, He gives freely and purposefully, even though the purpose is most likely lost on the receiver. God does not give only according to our little abilities to receive Him, He gives fully, which should make us want to grow to receive more.
So maybe that wasn’t even the biggest net St. Peter had, but Jesus gave him an overabundance of harvest anyways. May we also heed our Lord’s calls to seemingly foolish things in the hope that in this “foolishness” is true wisdom as His children.