Thoughts on Wisdom: (See Luke 7:35; also Matt. 11:19)

Posted June 21, 2011

A critical man, newly arrived in heaven, was shown a scene by his angel—a mud-stuck wagon with a horse hitched to front and rear, pulling the wagon in opposite directions. The man laughed at the futility of the scene, wondering how angels could be so stupid as to approve such an attempted solution to the problem. Then he noticed that the horses both had wings, and began to fly upwards, lifting the wagon out of the clinging mud. The man then leaned that, unlike us mortals, heaven finds every problem solvable.

Jesus in Luke 7:31-35 shows how Christians should expect criticism–“damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.” He likened the Pharisees to “children of this world (“children in the marketplace”), unable to see solutions to conflicting situations: Despising John the Baptist as a rigid ascetic, and Jesus as a profligate socializer, they saw only “a wagon being immobilized by two opposite impotent forces.” Jesus’ reminds us that we Christians should expect irrational rejection by  worldlings, for we are called by God to be, as he says, “children of wisdom”—not unthinking “children of the world.”

True “Children of Wisdom” have four characteristics: 1) Conscious of their ignorance (in need of God’s teaching); 2) Conscious of their guilt (in need of God’s mercy);3) Conscious of error (in need of correction); and 4) Conscious of their weakness (in need of God’s strength). Thus:

1) Ignorance—e.g., Why does God cause the innocent to suffer?

2) Guilt—e.g., Can you recall all your sins? (“righteous fall 7 times a day”).

3) Error—e.g., Does purgatory purify, or atone for sin? (Christ did that for us).

4) Weakness—e.g., Are you strong enough to beat temptation? “He who thinks himself strong to stand should take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12).

Wisdom seeks guidance and direction from God, and in response is given God’s own Wisdom to become “children of Wisdom.” That is, they learn to “think with the thoughts of God” (Thomas Aquinas). (Consider 1 Cor. 2: 10-16):

“These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But have the mind of Christ.

John H. Hampsch, CMF