Meet and Greet: Our next meet and greet will be after each Mass on 10/21. Volunteers needed to help set up – please email [email protected] if you can help.
The Bishops of the world have joined with young adults at a Synod for Youth. Before yawning, I ask you to read an excerpt from the official preliminary document, called the Instrumentum laboris
A large number of young people, mostly from highly secularized areas, are not asking the Church for anything, since they do not see her as a significant interlocutor in their lives. In fact, some of them expressly ask to be left alone, because they feel her presence to be bothersome or even irritating. This request does not stem from uncritical or impulsive scorn, but is deeply rooted in serious and respectable reasons: sexual and economic scandals […] ; the unpreparedness of ordained ministers […] ; the passive role given to young people within the Christian community; the difficulty the Church has in explaining her doctrinal and ethical stances in contemporary society.
This was not appreciated by the usual suspects, but may give many others some hope.
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct 14, 2018
This week we return to the Book of Wisdom. As we have seen before, it is written as the teachings of King Solomon who lived around 1000 BC in Jerusalem, but was produced about 30 BC in Alexandria, Egypt. Its purpose was to instruct the children of the Jewish elite on living as Jews in a pagan world. The author was aware of the physical, financial and philosophical temptations that they would face, and labored to show the superiority of the traditions and beliefs of their faith.
The recent confirmation hearings for Justice Kavanaugh has revealed, among so much else, the awful behavior of our own elites. More unpleasant for Catholics was that the behavior of students at Georgetown Prep, a leading Catholic – indeed Jesuit – prep school was indistinguishable from avowedly secular institutions. Many of our own parishioners are graduates of similar schools and have truly embodied the Jesuit desire to form “Men for Others,” but we need to ask, “What went wrong?” Does the author of Wisdom have anything positive to offer?
As we have seen, the author was deeply steeped in his own scriptures and traditions, and assumed that his listeners would at least know the basic stories. One of these featured King Solomon:
The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night and said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
6 Solomon answered: “You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David, because he behaved faithfully toward you, with justice and an upright heart; and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today, seating a son of his on his throne.
7 O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
10 The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.
11 So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—
12 I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you. 1 Kings 3:5–12
The author is telling his readers that if they wished to be a great leader like Solomon they would need wisdom, and that no one is born with wisdom, he must ask for it and develop it. In the section immediately before what we will read at Mass:
In swaddling clothes and with constant care I was nurtured.
5 For no king has any different origin or birth,
6 but one is the entry into life for all; and in one same way
they leave it. Wisdom of Solomon 7:4–6
Our section begins with “Therefore”. Simply, a king has no special advantage over anyone else. He must pray that God give him wisdom.
7 Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. Wisdom of Solomon 7:7
He sees it as more important than anything else.
8 I preferred her to scepter and throne,
And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
9 nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Wisdom of Solomon 7:8–9
It also is the most long lasting:
And I chose to have her rather than the light,
because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Wisdom of Solomon 7:10
Like Solomon, he discovered that Wisdom brings many gifts with her. In the last line of today’s passage, we read:
11 Yet all good things together came to me in her company,
and countless riches at her hands; Wisdom of Solomon 7:11
Oddly however, the next line from Wisdom was not included.
12 And I rejoiced in them all, because Wisdom is their leader,
though I had not known that she is the mother of these. Wisdom of Solomon 7:12
This line has a spiritual – perhaps even mystical – interpretation that reflects the experience, if not Solomon, of the author. The more he gave up earthly desires, the more he saw that whatever delights the world provides come from putting wisdom first. Compare this with Proverbs:
10 Receive my instruction in preference to silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold.
11 (For Wisdom is better than corals,
and no choice possessions can compare with her.) Proverbs 8:10–11
In Proverbs, Wisdom is of great price, a bride, and a lover. But in Wisdom, she is a mother – not only the summit but the source of earthly happiness. Some writers say that for the author of Wisdom, the experience of wisdom is the experience of God.
It is this experience which matters most. Jesuit educators have been writing a great deal about the actions of their students in the Kavanaugh case. Much of it is anguished, all thoughtful, and I hope that it will bring real reform. Yet there is something missing: Us. Have we experienced wisdom and if we have, have we developed it in our lives and communicated it to younger people? Whether we have or not, we need to pray to receive it and allow wisdom to grow in our heart.
In the 9th chapter of the book of Wisdom, Solomon asks God for wisdom. Let us take to heart and put into action its last lines:
17 Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given Wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
18 And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight, and men learned what was your pleasure, and were saved by Wisdom. (Wisdom 9:17-18)