True wisdom knows that it does not know

09-08-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Yesterday, Saturday, and also on Friday evening we welcomed Bishop Robert Reed, Regional Bishop of the West, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and offer the Sacrament of Confirmation to over 200 young men and women. May the power and grace of the Holy Spirit inflame their hearts that they may live a life worthy of Christ. We thank Mr. Roger Gullo, who is Director of the Confirmation Program, for his very dedicated work and service to our young people. In our Program, Roger offers the young people an opportunity to come to understand how they can be the very best version of themselves as active and engaged Catholics each day of their lives.

Pastoral Reflections:
The scripture this weekend invites us to develop a new and different way to view and understand life. The scripture suggest that we look from what we can believe to be God’s point of view. In a sense it is less about me and how I see, and more about God and how God sees.

Our first reading talks about both divine and human wisdom. It indicates that human wisdom is indeed quite narrow and focused by our limitations and also that God’s wisdom knows no limits. Without this wider wisdom, we cannot come to grasp the things of earth, much less try to understand the mind of God. We are reminded that even wise people are limited in their wisdom. As the ancient Greek philosophers say, true wisdom knows that it does not know.

Our second reading deals with the issue of slavery, which is not linked to the theme of the first and third readings, but still is powerful in its message. Saint Paul lays it out clearly that Onesimus who has become a Christian is no longer a slave, but an equal. How scandalous it is that our Church, in fact all Christian churches, supported slavery for so many centuries. Saint Paul indeed drops a big bomb in this passage. Paul calls on Philemon to think and act in a revolutionary way, to do more than just acquiesce to the values and mores of the existing social system, and to create a new order “in Christ,” where there is no “slave or free.” Perhaps we need to address some of the bigotry and hate over immigrants in our present society. It is shocking that even those who are long-time immigrants or the children of immigrant(s) are so bigoted and hateful. Our parish has many immigrants from many nations and continents, and we all are equal and wanted in Christ.

Our Gospel is composed of short parables that speak about what it takes to be a follower of Christ. We are challenged as Christians to think and plan ahead, and, at a minimum, to be wise and discreet. “Be prepared” is the first message of what it takes to follow Christ and the second — an equally important message — is “Be prepared to give all” to follow Christ. Another way of saying this is: only the person who recognizes what it takes to be a follower of Christ has what it takes to follow.

The Gospel tells us that if we are to follow Jesus, we must do some serious planning; we must figure out the cost. And then and only then we have to be willing to accept the fact that our plans are never enough, and that the cost is way beyond calculation. Jesus challenges us to trust that our “best” is nowhere near to God’s “best,” but we are still to become his followers even though others thinks we are fools. Jesus makes clear what we are to expect from a relationship with him, and he also explains what he looks for from us. Jesus warns us that there is always more than we can know and also asks us to trust that God’s concern for us is broader than our own understanding. Popular wisdom and “smart business” best practices may indicate that entering such a relationship may be high risk; however, it is Jesus who assures us that this is what really matters in the very end.