Are you a wise person? What is wisdom? Understood through the light of faith, it’s not comprised of intellectual knowledge, shrewd social maneuvering skills or an acquired ability to attain worldly success and recognition. It’s not about “hedging bets” or “covering one’s bases.” It’s not gained through a degree program at a university. The true meaning of wisdom in its fullest sense is found only in and through and with Christ who is Wisdom Incarnate.
Wisdom can have many different meanings in the English language. In the Bible, wisdom is also referred to as a person at times. When you look at the definition, wisdom can mean:
living and loving through the example Jesus is for us, through the Holy Spirit working within us.
“The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise”;
“The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment”;
“The body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period” (English Dictionary).
For us as people of faith, each of these definitions ring truth. We experience wisdom through God speaking to us in prayer, in scripture, through Divine Revelation, and most importantly through Christ. As Vatican II noted, the mystery of man is fully revealed only in the mystery of the Word made flesh. For Christians, Christ is himself wisdom incarnate. It is in and through and with him that our eyes are opened to heavenly, diving things, giving us to drink of the wisdom of God.
We apply wisdom given to us through participating in the Sacraments, being disciples through evangelical acts of service, and through taking time for quiet, attentively listening for God’s will. Wisdom for us is also a body of knowledge, through the Universal Church, a community of people who believe and practice the same faith, reading Scripture and coming together for worship. Though we cannot hope to comprehend everything that’s happening in our lives, God gives us the wisdom and guidance we need to be dedicated, loving disciples.
In order to truly grasp this kind of wisdom, however, we must experience life, go through the trials and successes in order to understand God working within our lives, moving us to move the world. In order to be wise, one must first know very little, make mistakes, and learn from them to be a stronger individual.
For example, have you ever tried starting fresh with a new gym membership? I remember for myself at the beginning in grade 11 fitness, it was one of the greatest challenges. I was a runner, so I was in good shape, but when it came to weight lifting and strength training, I was seriously lacking in skills and motivation. In order to get where I am today, frequently going to the gym, building up muscle strength, it took patience, constant effort, and a continuous build up from a smaller weight amount on the machines to increasing each time. Looking at the small weights I started with, now they’re a breeze.
When it comes to faith, each of us start at the bottom, we’re all sinners, we fall. Through baptism, going to the sacraments, confession and mass, and continuing to work on a prayer life, we grow in our faith. There will always be challenges, but not the same as at the beginning. God helps us carry the weight, and get stronger as we spend more time building relationship with Him. Just like the effort we put in to carry more weight through fitness, the more effort we put in to growing in faith, the easier the weight seems to be to carry, with God’s aid.
In the Book of Hebrews we read:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood
This passage in particular talks about running the race, going with perseverance in the road ahead and continuing on each and every day, despite the sins and weights that pull us down. Do you have some burdens that are wearing you down, making it hard to go into each day with a positive, joyful attitude? Wisdom cannot come without going through each experience we have already faced, are facing, and will face in the future, especially through the weights we carry. We all carry the weight, and God sent us Jesus, His Son, to take that weight from us, to help us carry the load and become free people of love.
God guides us towards greater wisdom through understanding that we are not alone in this race, that we don’t carry the burdens alone and that we’ll come out stronger on the other side of them. Pope Francis talks about Wisdom as the fruit of knowledge and experience, which can only be learned through the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. He states:
If we listen to the Holy Spirit, He will teach us this way of wisdom, and will give us the wisdom to see through God’s eyes, to hear with God’s ears, to love with the heart of God, to judge with God’s judgment. This is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives us, and all of us can have this.
(General Audience, 2014)
Wisdom comes hand in hand with perseverance, especially through the most challenging circumstances, but to the point where we can let go of our burdens and be free to live and love. In order to understand our faith, to be wise, we must persevere in our lives, embracing our freedom through making and taking experiences as they come our way, looking, living and loving through the example Jesus is for us, through the Holy Spirit working within us.
Let us take some time to reflect on the weights and burdens that challenge us daily, and ask God to help carry the weight and make us wiser coming out on the other side.
Thank You for sending Your Son so that I can be redeemed. Guide me to becoming more wise through every experience, challenge, joy you put in my path. Help me to continue to be in relationship with You and help me to carry the burdens I have.
I pray in Your most holy name, Amen.