The Radiance of Wisdom – Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time  

Courtesy of Matt Hendricks, SJ

Have you ever read the entire Book of Wisdom? It has some beautiful sections. Today we hear that wisdom is radiant and unfading and is found by those who seek and desire her. To fix one’s thoughts on her is perfect understanding.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm reiterates the notion of thirsting for and desiring God. I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night. And the Gospel speaks of the five wise bridesmaids who thought ahead regarding their supplies of oil. The case of those women is an illustration of practical wisdom, which has to go hand-in-hand with the loftier divine attribute of God.

Wisdom is seen as an attribute of God, a breath of the power of God … an image of His goodness (Wis 7:25-26). St. Paul says that in Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3).

Mary is seen as the Seat of Wisdom. Through the incarnation, God called her to collaborate in bringing Divine wisdom into the world. Therefore, baptism means that it is possible for us to have a share in God’s wisdom.

St Thomas Aquinas claimed that wisdom is the greatest of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. He said that it helps us to see and evaluate everyday life in relation to God and the Kingdom of God. It involves a process of coming to see the deeper meaning and hidden lessons of everyday events in our lives.

The Latin word sapientia comes from the word sapere, meaning to savour or taste. Wisdom helps us to taste and see how good the Lord is and to have a taste for the things of God. It is to have a sense of the divine in all things.

It’s not that different than St Ignatius of Loyola suggesting that we are to find God in all things in life. With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the valleys and mountains of our lives take on deeper meaning.

We use the word wise to describe those who have experienced a lot in life and have reflected on their experience in a way that helps them to see the hand of God at work in the mysterious paths of their lives.

Usually it takes old age to gain wisdom. But there are many young people who have reflected on difficult experiences that make them wise.

Think of the young man who has survived an extremely difficult illness and has come close to death several times. If he reflects on his experience and is able to see God’s hand, he’ll be a wise man.

Or, think of the young woman who has helped raise her siblings after the tragic death of both parents. If she reflects on the experience and comes to see God’s grace in all that has happened, she’ll be wise.

We miss an opportunity to grow in wisdom if we have tough experiences but don’t reflect on them and see God’s mysterious ways. Consider the older person whose spouse dies and who becomes angry with God and becomes self-absorbed and bitter toward others. They refuse to see God’s hand at work in their lives.

Pope Benedict XVI used a Portuguese proverb a few times: God writes straight with crooked lines. It is when we can see the mysterious hand of God in the difficulties of life that we attain wisdom.

Challenging experiences reflected on in light of God can teach us more than smooth and easy experiences. We experience true wisdom when we let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus … who emptied himself, taking the form of a slave … and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross (Phil 2:5-8).

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 05:25h, 08 November Reply

    Wisdom is found by those who look for it.She makes herself known to them. These words alone draw us to ponder the absolute beauty of the truth of our relationship with our Divine Lord. The truth is being constantly revealed to us in our daily lives, it is up to us to uncover it in the hand of God being given to us.The responsorial psalm antiphon today really calls us to know our inmost yearning to be one with with Him who nourishes us and feeds us continually with His Love .We must have our hearts primed and ready to meet Him when He comes, as we know not when that hour will be. Jesus I trust in you.And give myself to you.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 09:59h, 08 November Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • Peggy Spencer
    Posted at 01:03h, 09 November Reply

    In answer to your opening question ‘Have you ever read the entire Book of Wisdom’, I have to answer ‘no’. However, after reading from Sunday’s first reading from Wisdom, I have made the decision to begin. Your article has confirmed my decision. If only the Book of Wisdom could be published in the Weekend Media….., humanity might begin to come to its senses. Thank you for your beautiful reflection.

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