The first reading from last Sunday’s Mass was taken from a book of the Old Testament written by one or more authors most probably around the first century BCE; it reflects the Greek and Hebrew thinking directed to leaders of high station. But ordinary American readers today might logically think that there is little that would relate to them or to their lives. A difference of cultures and of centuries can lead one to draw that conclusion, but I found the passage from Wisdom 7:7-11 to be unusually relevant. The writer begins by listing some priorities held byleaders: such things as scepter and throne (we might refer to these as power and control over people and territory), riches (wise investments, economic security and control, possession of valuable assets), health and comeliness (youthful fitness, beauty, the ability to be always enviably attired in the latest fashion). It takes little imagination to see that we today are basically the same in what we aspire to as the people centuries before us. So it is encouraging to see that the writer goes on to say that there is something more important to him than any of the worldly values that many people crave. The writer names wisdom as the object of his search and the one thing worth striving for.
So I pose the question to you: how would you define wisdom? What are the essential elements of wisdom that you look for today? Where do you look for guidance? Where do you find wisdom when you need to make a decision that will have ramifications for yourself and for others? A different approach to the subject might be to ask yourself who is the wisest person you know? Why did you select that person? What characteristics of theirs do you think speak to their wisdom? Try asking this question around the dinner table; ask your children to whom they look for wisdom when they have questions or need advice. You might be surprised at the maturity of their answers.
Wisdom. The subject can lead to a philosophical discussion or an expression of appreciation to someone who represents wisdom to you. If you really get into the subject, you might find that that you are led into prayer that is self-revealing, prayer that strips away layers of previously unnoticed prejudices or unhelpful habits or unmet needs. Wisdom may give you the courage to take some action that you have been avoiding. Ultimately you may find the same source of wisdom that the writer of the Book of Wisdom relied upon. And you might be prompted to journal your own book of wisdom.