The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time gives us our definition of Wisdom


Who among you is educated and over-standing? Let him show his works by a beautiful turning back in the gentleness that comes from education.

Education from below is upon the earth, natural, and cancerous.

Education from above is pure, peaceable, reasonable, persuaded, full of mercy and noble fruits, without inconstancy or acting.

If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.

The fruit of צֶדֶק/charity sows itself in שלום/completeness for those who cultivate שלום/completeness.

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As we read the second reading for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we notice that “Wisdom,” “Education,” appears in every other line. Alternately, “Jealousy and selfish ambition,” appear in the alternate lines. Wisdom is of two kinds. On the one hand is Philosophy, loving Wisdom/the Holy Spirit. On the other hand is sophistry, pure academic wisdom, or the skill in using words to get what one wants.

Pharaoh uses the later kind in Exodus 1:10 as he addresses the Hebrew people. King Solomon asks for the later kind when he asks God for Wisdom. He asks for the physical skill to govern well, not necessarily the spiritual skill to start with a love of God.

After receiving wisdom, God commands him, “If you walk in my ways, keeping my customs and Mitzvah, as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Wisdom is not necessarily the same as following the word of God. Solomon at that time already has one foreign wife and the people already follow idolatrous ways, which Solomon does not correct.

St. Paul speaks of earthly wisdom in the first chapter of I Corinthians, “Where is the wise one? Where is the grammarian? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish…? It was the will of God to save those who have faith. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom. We proclaim Christ crucified, an obstacle to Jews, foolishness to Goim.

Earthly wisdom has no referent. Neal Diamond says it well in “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show,”

Brothers,  I said Brothers, Now you got yourself two good hands, and when your brother is troubled you got to reach out your one hand for him,” ‘Cause that’s what it’s there for. (King Solomon had this part right. He forgot…) When your heart is troubled you got to reach out your other hand reach it out to the man up there ‘Cause that’s what he’s there for.”

Most knowledgeable people think they know the Ten Commandments. We rattle them off at will, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.”

In Mark 10, as quoted above, Jesus only the last six, intentionally. As the debate continues, Jesus will point to the first four, which Jesus left out, and we all tend to forget:

(1) Hear, you who quarrel with God, the customs and correct judicial precedents, I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to observe them. The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, made a Brit/Social Contract with us at Mt. Sword; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Brit/Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… (Remember,) I am The Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of menial labor.

(2)You shall not have other saviors before my face.

(3) You will not invoke the name of The Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, in vain.

(4) Guard Sabbath. Keep it dedicated, as The Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, commanded.

It is one thing to govern justly. It is another to govern justly for a reason. King Solomon did not understand the reason. Pharaoh, thinking he was a god himself, did not know the reason. Jesus knows the reason and he asks us to know the reason. God rescued us first. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” That is the concept of Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, and John 15:16.

If we keep the first commandment, in the process we will keep the rest. If we remember what it was like to suffer, and we remember our rescue, we will be too busy making sure others do not suffer to desire to hurt them in any way. Father and Mother are God’s representatives. In deference to God, we honor his representatives, which include all made in his image and his likeness. We will not attribute our rescue to anyone but him. We will not take his name lightly, nor do things to cause others to take his name lightly. We will celebrate a weekly anniversary of our salvation, Sunday. On that day we remember our rescue.

The Jewish Community has the concept of the Physical Presence. “The Personal Name cut this Brit/Social Contract, with us, each of us, alive, here, this day…” Each time the Jewish community celebrates Passover, they celebrate their liberation from Egypt, for the first time. The Physical Presence of the Exodus appears each time they celebrate Passover. Our Passover is the Eucharist.

We celebrate our escape through the Passion and Death of Jesus, physically present for the first time, each time we celebrate the Eucharist. When we live this event out in our daily lives, we become Shalom, complete. Others see our completeness and desire to join us. Is this how we live our lives?

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