This is a very special day. While the rest of the world is taking down its Christmas decorations, Christians are celebrating the 2nd Sunday of Christmas. We will be celebrating 4 more days until we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men on January 6th. God has become a human being who lived among us showing us who God was and what He is calling and empowering us to be. That’s incredible news. God took on human flesh to save us from ourselves, sin, death, and the power of the Devil.
When we were baptized, we were made one with God. Jesus became our brother. The Holy Spirit was given to us that we might be connected to the very heart of God.
Yes, the Word, the very activity of the living God, has become flesh and dwells in the hearts of all believers. But the wisdom part of God alludes me. When I was a young man, I looked forward to one day being a man of wisdom. I am now 81 years old, and I am still looking for wisdom.
But I did hear some clues about how to find wisdom this week. It came from two persons. The first came to me from a TV commentary. “Know what you know. Know what you don’t know.” I shared this bit of wisdom with a friend, and they shared another line. “Know the difference.”
So how might I go about such a quest. There is a Roman Catholic priest by the name of Richard Roth who is first a human being, second a Christian, and third a prophet who can stand on the side and be a critic of society, but a critic of the Church. Let me share with you his devotion from this past week.
On the last day of the year, I generally withdraw to pray. A few years ago, I asked myself: What should I pray for this year? What do we need in these turbulent times? Naturally I was strongly tempted to pray for more love. But it occurred to me that I’ve met so many people who are already full of love and who really care for others. Maybe what we lack isn’t love but wisdom. It became clear to me that above all else I should pray for wisdom.
We all want to love. But as a rule, we don’t know how to love rightly. How should we love? How should we love so that life will come from it? I believe that what we all need is wisdom. I’m very disappointed that we in the Church have passed on so little wisdom. Often the only thing we’ve taught people is to think that they’re right—or that they’re wrong. We have either mandated things or forbidden them. But we haven’t helped people to enter upon the narrow and dangerous path of true wisdom. On wisdom’s path we take the risk of making mistakes. On this path, we take the risk of being wrong. This is how wisdom is gained.
It looks as if we will always live in a world that is a mixture of good and evil until the Kingdom of God comes in its fullest. Jesus called it a field in which wheat and weeds grow alongside each other. We say, “Lord, shouldn’t we go and rip out the weeds?” But Jesus says: “No, if you try to do that, you’ll probably rip the wheat out along with the weeds. Let both grow alongside each other in the field till harvest” (Matthew 13:24-30).
We need a lot of patience and humility to live with a field of both weeds and wheat in our own souls.
Jesus came to teach us the way of wisdom. He brought us a message that offers to liberate us both from the lies of the world and the lies lodged in ourselves. The words of Gospel create an alternative consciousness, solid ground on which we can stand, free from every social order and from every ideology. Jesus calls this new foundation the Reign of God, and he said it is something that takes place in this world and yet will never be completed in this world. This is where faith comes in. It is so rare to find ourselves trusting not in the systems and –isms of this world but standing at a place where we offer our bit of salt, leaven, and light. It seems so harmless, and even then, we have no security that we’re really right. That means that we have to stand in an inconspicuous, mysterious place — a place where we’re not sure that we’re sure, where we are comfortable knowing that we do not know very much at all.
I thank Richard for his observations but would like to add a few of my own. I believe there is great wisdom in studying the scripture, especially with each other. Most Tuesdays I get together with two other pastors and we reflect on the messages and inspiration we see in the scripture appointed for next Sunday. I am amazed what we learn together as we openly share and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us closer to Christ and each other.
The same has been true for us during the Wednesday evening Bible Study. We studied Mark, and now we are reading and reflecting on the Gospel of Luke.
After the Council sets the date, we are going to have a Saturday retreat to see where the Lord might be leading us in 2022 and beyond. We have been asking ourselves these questions. What three things do you believe we did as a parish in 2021 that pleased God. And secondly, what three things do we believe God would want us to be and do in 2022. I am convinced our shared answer will be led by the Holy Spirit as we move forth. Will it be perfect wisdom, no; but I believe it will be a step toward wisdom.
Let’s keep seeking wisdom, God will show us the way through scripture, prayer, and each other.
And now may the peace of God which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.