24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Proverbs 1.20-33
Psalm 19
James 3.1-12
Mark 8.27-38

Wisdom.....hmmm....is being Wise the same thing as being a person that makes good choices?

If a person is Wise, does that mean s/he is a good rule follower? Does it mean s/he is able to intuitively pay attention to life experience really well? Is it a combination of both?

This week the different texts that make up our Lectionary reading all sort of dance around the ideas of listening to the advice of authority, following laws, fulfilling your true nature, and making tough choices to follow a Higher Calling.

Gratefully, we get another reading from the book of Proverbs this week. And this passage really points to the part of the book that is interesting. It is a personification of Wisdom that speaks out as woman. Many scholars believe that this woman Wisdom is speaking out the words and guidance of Solomon. But basically we see Her (Wisdom) standing at the gate of the city telling people if they don't follow her guidance, she will turn her back on them and allow them to be overtaken by disaster and calamity. Hmmmm.... (Feeling like a lectionary geek? Check out the alternate reading - Wisdom of Solomon 7:26 - 8:1 - another beautiful personification of lady Wisdom!)

Many of us know the last line of Psalm 19: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." These are intimate words of a prayer spoken from a person who is devoted to following the law of the Lord, and they are a great way for us to humbly ground ourselves every morning and before every conversation we have in a day. However, we would encourage you to look at the other 13 verses of this Psalm. These words come from a person who is desperately committed to being in some sort of relationship with the Lord and is desperately attempting to appreciate and follow the Law of the Lord. But the psalmist knows that even knowing and consciously following the law does not keep a person free of sin. How are we responsible for what we do not actively know?

The message that comes to us from the writer of James reminds us about how our mistakes (bad choices) are a part of who we are. The reading begins with a warning that not too many can become teachers! Ah...knowledge has limits. And our tongues get us in trouble...as if we needed James to tell us that!

And in the gospel according to Mark we see Jesus and Peter in a bit of a conflict because of the choice (was Jesus making a choice?) Jesus was making and the choice Peter wanted Jesus to make. Jesus ended up inviting the disciples and the crowds to choose against the easy option and follow him. And the easy option is the one that is easy survival - easy living. And so, at some level, what comes easiest and most instinctive is NOT the way Jesus hopes his followers will choose.

It seems to us that we are expected to be more than just instinctive creatures reacting from our knowledge base and our biological response. We sense a higher call -- an expectation that we will seek a right way in relationship with God.

How do you understand wisdom? Is it something different from knowledge? Is it gained by your own work, or is it a gift of grace? Something else?
What do you do with the knowledge that you have? the Wisdom?

Spirit of Wisdom
Lift us out of our faith in ourselves, in what we know.
And light on our heart
Granting us insight and understanding
So that we may exercise Your Wisdom
to light the world.

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