Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 16, 2020
Sr Phyllis Jaszkowiak
Today’s readings call us to Wisdom. Wisdom is more than tweets or sound bites, more than information or data, more than just understanding or knowledge. Wisdom is that knowing, of seeing beneath the obvious. Wisdom is being able to see paradox and being able to hold both ends of the paradox in creative tension.
Knowledge and information are very helpful, as is our experience, in coming to Wisdom. Wisdom is born of maturity, born of listening to others and their views, born of listening especially to God who speaks within us through the Spirit. It demands of us the ability to ponder deeply before reaching a decision.
When we come to a decision Wisdom helps us to take a second look, to look more deeply, before we act on any decision. This is what Jesus is trying to tell us in today’s gospel.
Jesus quotes a commandment, then expands on that commandment, to help us explore what all is involved. If we take one of the commandments, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill, and whoever kills will be liable to judgement. But I say to you whoever is angry with a brother or sister will be liable to judgment.”
Jesus goes to the heart of the matter, seeing that anger, if not dealt with, can lead to worse actions, even to murder. Anger can kill a relationship whether at work, at home, or in a marriage if not acknowledged or dealt with. So he asks us to go deeper into our selves, see what emotions are leading us, and if the anger is justified, which sometimes it is, how best to use that anger to make good come rather than more hurt or hate.
In the first reading it is said, “Before humanity are life and death, good and evil, whichever humanity chooses shall be given them. Immense is the Wisdom of God. No one does God command to act unjustly, to none does God give license to sin.”
We have had laws in Portland and in Oregon that have not followed God’s law of love. I think of the sunset laws where anyone who was black had to be out of the city by sunset. I think of the Chinese Exclusion Act that disbarred any Chinese from being in Oregon, and the whole of the country. Thank goodness people resisted both laws and finally got them thrown out. To repeat, “No one does God command to act unjustly; to none does God give license to sin.”
Wisdom is what we receive when we ponder God’s action within us. Wisdom is the result of coming to know God, the Spirit, within us. As St. Paul says in the second reading, “For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.”
We are called to change this year. What better way to change than to grow into Wisdom. I read once that we, me, are to be wise elders, not just old folks, and especially not crabby old folks. Wisdom takes growth all our lives, pondering good and evil and choosing the good.
As an aside, we need Wisdom this election year. Since no candidate is perfect, we need Wisdom to choose the best one who will work for the common good, respect all people in words they say and in laws for which they lobby. To vote intelligently and morally we need God’s Wisdom.
As St. Paul says, “We speak a Wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age. Rather we speak God’s Wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory.”
Wisdom is, in the end, coming to know God, being alive in the Spirit, and living God’s love. It is this Wisdom that Jesus portrays in today’s gospel.
Let us then grow and change to receive God’s Wisdom, which is given to us through the Spirit. This Wisdom, given by the Spirit, leads us to true freedom and the ability to live our lives in the love and goodness of God.