By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus AMEH
Readings: Wisdom 6:12-16; Psalm 63; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
Living life can be difficult sometimes. Living the Christian life can be even more difficult and this is because through the journey of life, we constantly face situations that require us to make hard judgments. To make a wrong judgment can have very dire consequences, and no one wants that. To be able to make the right judgment, one essential thing is needed: Wisdom! It is on this theme of wisdom, more specifically, divine wisdom, that the Church has asked us to reflect today, and the three readings of today’s Mass speak to us on this subject.
In synopsis, Reading 1 tells us that wisdom is readily available to those who seek her, and in Reading 2, we are told that it is only the truly wise that understand the true destiny of those who have died. Jesus tells us in the gospel that we need wisdom to be ready for our end, for his second coming, and that only the truly wise will be admitted to the festive gathering of heaven.
What therefore, is this wisdom? Wisdom is the trait or the ability to use your knowledge and your experiences to make good decisions or form good judgments; it can also be understood as keen insight into life and ways of dealing with its problems.
How do we get this divine wisdom? Does it come naturally to everyone? Is there something we ought to do to possess it? From all indications from everyday experiences, and more so, from our gospel text of today’s Mass, it is obvious that it is not everyone who possesses divine wisdom. Jesus tells of ten virgins, five of whom were wise and five of whom were foolish. Thus, while everyone has common sense (which made all ten virgins carry lamps), not everyone has wisdom (which made only five virgins carry extra oil). So, how do we get this divine wisdom? I shall present five ways to us.
- Desire it and pray for it. No one can ever be wise who does not first desire to be wise. And all who desire wisdom seek for her. Part of our first reading says wisdom “is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her” (Wisdom 6:12-13). Because of the indispensability of wisdom in our walk through life and our walk with God, we must desire and seek it. In Proverbs 4:7, the word of God says “Wisdom is the supreme thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” But it is not sufficient to simply desire wisdom, we must also ask God who owns it and who gives it to give it to us, for the bible says in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” So, to get wisdom, desire it, and pray for it.
- Reverence God and keep his Word. Reverence for God and obedience to his precepts is the foundation for all godly wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and in Matthew 7:24, Jesus says “Therefore whoever hears these Words of Mine, and keeps them, is like a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” To be firmly rooted in divine wisdom, we must fear God, we must obey God.
- Keep company with the wise. To grow in wisdom, you must surround yourself with the wise. Being in the company of the wise is a sure way of maintaining and strengthening yourself in wisdom. Proverbs 13:20 says “He who walks with the wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” and in I Corinthians 15:33, the word of God tells us that “evil company corrupts good manners.” It is not possible to constantly be in the company of the unwise and expect to grow in wisdom. In 1 Kings 10:1ff, when the Queen of Sheba heard of the wisdom of Solomon, though she was a wise woman, she travelled a long distance to his palace to hear from him, and seeing that he was exceedingly wise, in vs 8, she said, “Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom!” Why did she say so? It is because to be in the company of the wise is to grow in wisdom.
- Regular Bible study. A major prerequisite for the possession of divine wisdom is the regular study of the Word of God, the Bible. God speaks to us in his word, and his word is the source of all things, including wisdom. Any Christian who is serious about his or her relationship with God and who desires to grow in wisdom must draw daily nuggets of wisdom from the Bible. In Psalm 19:7, scripture says “The commands of the Lord are trustworthy, giving wisdom to those who lack it.”
- Constantly think about your end. To constantly keep our death, our end in sight, is a sure path to growing in wisdom. This is one of the directions to which Jesus points our thoughts in the gospel text. After all the talk about wisdom and folly in the parable of the virgins, Jesus ended by saying, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” In Psalm 90:12, the Bible says “Teach us how short our life is, that we may become wise.” Realizing the brevity of life and keeping it in view helps us to avoid some of the many silly mistakes we make in life which we sometimes think we can correct much later; it also helps us to set our priorities right and place greater value on eternal things than on the transient things of this life.
Dear friends, today, the Church is asking us to be people who are wise, people who seek to grow in wisdom, people who help others to be wise. It was wisdom that got some virgins into the banquet feast of the groom, and it was the lack of it that that made some others miss out on the feast. May divine wisdom help us to always stay prepared, so that we may find ourselves inside and not shut out of the feast of heaven.
Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!