How do you gain wisdom, and how do you obey God’s word? The answer for this is as elusive as it is simple.
Wisdom can be elusive
We’ve been reading Proverbs at weekday Masses, and the words are simple enough. But as you read the Proverbs and other biblical wisdom literature, you’ll find that wisdom can seem contradictory. For example, sometimes we’re admonished not to sleep too much, but elsewhere we’re told to rest more. It takes wisdom to know how to apply wisdom.
The Word can be elusive
Then, in a Gospel reading this week, we have Luke’s version of people coming to Jesus and telling him that his mother and brothers want to see him. His answer is surprising: “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
That’s simple enough: we’re called to hear the word of God and do it. But like wisdom literature, the instruction can be elusive. Who is Jesus referring to? Not the Pharisees, of course–but they believed that they were doing God’s word with great precision. Do you receive the word correctly? How do you know if you’re included in that select group of those who “hear” and “do”?
The Cross is clearer
We know this: God makes his way clear. James tells us that wisdom is there for anyone who truly wants it, and Jesus says the same about membership in his family. The clear way is the cross.
What did Jesus say to Mary while he was on the cross? “Woman, behold your son.” And then to John: “Behold, your mother.” They were both at the foot of the cross, and that’s where Jesus’ family is made.
Paul said that the cross gives us wisdom that is not of this world (1 Cor 2:1-7). At the Mass, we are there, outside of time, at the foot of the cross with Mary and John. As we’re sent out from Mass, we’re called make the way of the cross the guiding principle of our lives. If you do this, then God’s family likeness will be seen in you forever.