Today’s scripture passage from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom provokes us to imagine wisdom metaphorically, one of the Lord’s great gifts, personified as a great lady, a woman of formidable power.
This woman, Wisdom, invites us into relationship with her and through this relationship, she quickens in us the capacity to accomplish mighty deeds, works which manifest that the gift of wisdom is to be preferred to any other gift.
What is wisdom? Wisdom is not to be equated with practical skill, instead it is a capacity for discernment of the truth, particularly the truth which illuminates the meaning and purpose of human existence. The Bible insists that such discernment, such wisdom is only possible through a relationship with the one, true God who created all things and therefore is the giver of the ultimate answers to the deepest longings of our souls.
God’s Holy Wisdom is finally revealed to the world, not as a metaphor or as a personification, but as a living divine person, a divine person who accepts a human nature and lives a real, human life. This living divine person is the Lord Jesus Christ, who as reveals in his identity and in his mission the meaning and purpose of human existence. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council testified, and Pope St. John Paul affirmed, it is Jesus Christ who fully reveals man to himself. This means that the truth about the meaning and purpose of our lives cannot be revealed simply in esoteric philosophies or self-help strategies or social service projects, but only in an encounter with the Living God whom we encounter in Christ the Lord.
The Church has as its mission to bear the living presence of the Lord Jesus into the world. She accomplishes this mission through the Sacraments and Works of Mercy, but also and especially through a personal invitation to know Jesus Christ.
The Christian who knows Christ has been given that relationship so that they can become a route of access to Jesus Christ for others. The Christian life only bears fruit and the Church only flourishes in her mission if those who claim to know Christ are willing to share the relationship they have with him with others.
Withholding from others the Holy Wisdom that imparts God’s answer to humanity’s longing for meaning and purpose is a terribly selfish thing to do. This happens when we privatize our relationship with Christ or when our concerns for institutions and causes end up making the Church into a private club, rather than a means of encountering the Lord.
Christ the Lord testifies to the revelation of the Kingdom of God.
What is this?
The Kingdom of God is literally God’s rule or sovereignty over his creation. The revelation of the Kingdom of God indicates that the worldly and spiritual powers that oppose God’s sovereignty or rule over his creation will be defeated.
When Christ testifies to the Kingdom of God, he is not just making reference to ideas or emotions, or to something spiritualized or otherworldly, but to something very real and with very real world implications for how people will live in this world.
The first and most important “sign” of the Kingdom of God is Christ himself. Christ is victorious over the worldly and spiritual powers that oppose God in his cross and resurrection (this is the meaning of Christ’s reference to the revelation of the mysterious “Son of Man” who will suffer and be rejected).
The Church is also a sign of the revelation of the Kingdom of God, particularly in the saints, who manifest in their heroic discipleship the victory of God in Christ.
The Christian who is truly Christ’s disciple manifests the revelation in the Kingdom of God by living in such a way that their way of life only makes sense if it is understood in relation to Jesus Christ. If we are truly conformed to Christ, we accept his sovereignty over our lives. Practically speaking this means that Christ, not our desires for wealth, pleasure, power and honors, and not our political or economic and cultural commitments set the agenda for the way that we live.
Of course, this is not an easy way of life, and it necessitates taking risks and making sacrifices. The saints demonstrate to us how all this can be accomplished and reveal that living in relationship with Christ is not just an ideal, but is also a real world possibility.
As Christians we are not running about wily nily looking for the Kingdom of God, as some do in their pursuit of worldly philosophies and ideological agendas, we know that this Kingdom has arrived and it is here in this world, being brought to its fulfillment by Christ, active and working in his Church.
It is in the Christ, living and present in his Church, in his saints, that the Kingdom of God is among us.