August 28, 2022
In our confusing, dangerous world, we are overwhelmed with information. But true wisdom is in short supply. What is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives?
This is the eighth in a series of nine homilies on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The following are the links to all the homilies in this series:
1st – The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
2nd – The Gift of Fear of the Lord
3rd – The Gift of Piety
4th – The Gift of Fortitude
5th – The Gift of Understanding
6th – The Gift of Counsel
7th – The Gift of Knowledge
8th – The Gift of Wisdom
9th – Searching for Wisdom
- What is wisdom?
- What are the different types?
- What is the Gift of Wisdom?
This is a computer-generated transcription that has been included to make the homily searchable. It has not been verified by the author.
“My child, conduct your affairs with humility. And you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God. What is too sublime for you, seek not, enter things beyond your strength, search not the mind of a sage, appreciate proverbs. And an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.” An attentive ear is the joy of the wise. And so let’s try to be attentive. May our ear be attentive, as we listen to the Word of God today. This passage from the first reading from the book of Sirach, is speaking of the humility, advising us to have humility and recognize the limits of what we know. And this book is part of a whole series of books, what is called The Wisdom literature, books like this book, Sirach, and Proverbs and especially the Book of Wisdom. So, wisdom was an important topic for the people of God, a practical wisdom for how to best live our life. And Jesus, in the Gospel, continues in that tradition of practical wisdom. Even talking about how we should conduct ourselves when we’re invited to a banquet, or how we should, when we’re the ones having a banquet or a party. And He says, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” So, Jesus continues in this spirit of teaching wisdom, and a spirit of humility. And so, we’re in a time in our world, we know in which there’s never been as much access to knowledge, the scientific information and technical advancement, as in our time. It’s very easy for all of us to have access to that. And yet, with all this knowledge, and all this information, there’s a great shortage of wisdom. Our society has a lack of wisdom. And in our hard, dangerous world, we especially need wisdom. So how can we get wisdom? In one school of wisdom, of course, is the school of hard knocks. That’s the hard way. And some people even with hard knocks, don’t learn. But is there any better way? So, first of all, what is wisdom? The dictionary defines it as experience, knowledge and good judgment. And so, we use it when we’re talking about a person who has a lot of experience and has learned and knows something very deeply. So, a simple way would be to say, wisdom is having the big picture. Wisdom gives us the big picture of something. So, there’s wisdom about particular areas, like we might say, a wise doctor, who has a lot of experience about a certain domain of medicine, or a wise teacher knows well how to teach, or wise businessman who’s had a lot of experience in business. So those are particular areas. But then there’s also wisdom about life in general, a wise person not just in a specific domain, but about life in general. And there’s even a type of worldly wisdom. And this is the wisdom about what St. Paul says, “the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” So that’s a wisdom about how to do things, to get worldly things. But that’s what he says is folly with God. So, St. Thomas went on trying to define more clearly, more specifically, what wisdom is. He says, “wisdom is knowing the highest cause, the ultimate cause of something.” So, to give you an example, say like, an architect or general contractor, also like, maybe like an electrician, he knows a specific area, he knows about the electricity for a building, but like, or the carpenter or you know, maybe that the people who lay the tile. But then architect or general contractor, their role is to have the big picture, to see how it all fits together. But what is the ultimate cause of everything, not just a building, but of everything. So, we know the ultimate cause is God Himself. And so wisdom, concerns wisdom in its deepest center is knowing God. St. Paul talks about this, in his letter to the Corinthians, it says, “among the mature, we do impart wisdom. But it is not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age.” So, it’s not a worldly wisdom. He says, “we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God,” a secret and hidden wisdom of God. God has revealed this to us through the Spirit. So, this is a wisdom which comes as a revelation, by God, a gift of God, through the Holy Spirit For the Spirit searches, everything, even the depths of God. The Holy Spirit knows everything, and so He can reveal the depths of God. So now, this leads us to speak of the gift of wisdom, the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom. Many of you know that we’ve been doing a whole series on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. And this is the seventh, and greatest of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is knowing the highest cause, God. But how? How does the gift of wisdom know God? Because there’s different ways of knowing God. So, we could speak of a philosophical wisdom. That’s a wisdom in which a person, a good philosopher, maybe who never had access to Revelation, say someone like Aristotle, back then came to a certain knowledge of God, a certain authentic knowledge of God. So that’s the philosophical wisdom. But then there’s a greater wisdom, which is a theological wisdom, which is the wisdom that a person can get by studying our faith, for instance studying scripture. And theology is a great example of someone like St. Thomas Aquinas, so that the theological wisdom, a wisdom that we can get from theological studies. But then the gift of wisdom is higher even than that. Because it’s not a gift, which comes from our own studies. It’s not a wisdom that’s come from our own studies. But it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit, who is sharing with us, uncreated wisdom, the very Divine wisdom itself, the very wisdom of God, that the Holy Spirit can share with us. And so again, this is not a wisdom, that like all the other gifts, this is not something that we obtained by our own study or efforts. But it is a gift. But so that the key about this gift of wisdom is that this is a knowledge of God, which comes then not from study, but from a loving union with God, from a loving union with God, and knowledge which comes from friendship with God, from knowing God. So, think even in our human experience, it’s different to know about a person, maybe like a famous person that you read about, it’s different to know about them. That’s very different from actually knowing the person, developing a friendship with the person and having a loving relationship with a person, you get a very different knowledge of the person through that. And so, this gift of wisdom comes from an experience of God, and experience of loving, friendship, or communion with God. So, what is this wisdom? It’s first of all about God Himself, about God himself. But it also, this wisdom also guides us for our human actions. It helps us to judge rightly, in the light of God. St. Paul says, “the spiritual man, God judges all things. That is the one who truly knows God is able to see clearly and judge correctly about all things. And so, what’s the relationship between wisdom and faith? A lot of this, that I’m sharing with you is from St. Thomas Aquinas. So faith is accepting what God has revealed, the Divine truth. And he says, “that belongs to the gift of wisdom, to judge according to this truth, to receive the truth of God, and judge rightly.” And so, all of us at Baptism are given this gift of wisdom. But like all the other gifts, it’s given to us like a seed. And it also depends on our cooperation, so that the seed can grow in us. So, you have been given this gift of wisdom. And the more we’re faithful to the Holy Spirit, the more it can grow. And so, like the readings today were showing us one of the things that’s most necessary for the growth of wisdom is humility. It is given to the simple, simple hearts. And Jesus says in the Gospel, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned,” that is the wise and learned humanly, “and you have revealed them to infants.” Because this is a gift, it doesn’t come from our study. God gives it to those who are humble, and open. The more we are humble and simple, the more He can share this gift. The Lord says to Saint Faustina, “when you reflect upon what I tell you, in the depths of your heart,” what I tell you, what the Holy Spirit reveals, in the depths of your heart, He says, “You profit more than if you had read many books.” The books might be very helpful. I mean, this is coming from a book, the book, in Saint Faustina’s Diary. So that doesn’t mean the books aren’t helpful. But more than what we can learn through books, is what God Himself reveals to us. So, it’s very helpful to use our own intelligence, to study about the faith, to learn our faith, learn the Catechism, and learn scripture, like St. Thomas Aquinas, again, is a great example of that. But he himself is saying that as much good as all that is, much greater is the gift of wisdom. So, this is the final in our series of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. And I know it’s a lot to take in. That’s one of the reasons that we record these homilies, in case you want to listen to it again. So, you don’t have to remember all the explanation. But it is helpful to realize that this greatest gift of the Holy Spirit is what gives us wisdom, the greatest wisdom. What helps us to know and understand the big picture. So many times, for instance, speaking of the big picture, so many times, we humans only look at the immediate consequences, and don’t see the long-term results and even the eternal results. For instance, a person getting into an adulterous relationship, because it seems to bring short term pleasure without realizing all the disastrous long-term consequences. So, wisdom helps us to see the big picture. And it helps us to make better judgment. So, we can ask today, our Blessed Mother, Mary, Seat of Wisdom, to intercede for us and during this Mass, we can ask for this gift of wisdom. When I say ask, it doesn’t mean that we don’t already have it. But by praying for it, so that it can grow more and more in us. How many tragic decisions do humans make, that could have been avoided if we are listening to the Holy Spirit’s wisdom? And so, next week, I said this is our final in a series of these seven gifts but next week there’s a passage from the book of Wisdom. So, I hope to have an occasion next week to come back to the Book of Wisdom. But I’m just going to end today by reading a passage from the book of Wisdom, about wisdom. And it’s mysterious show you here, it’s mysterious. And it’s talking about wisdom when it says, “For she,” and it’s the she here is wisdom, “For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty. Though she is but one, she can do all things while remaining in herself. She renews all things. In every generation, she passes into holy souls, and makes them friends of God and prophets. For God loves nothing, so much as the man who lives with wisdom. For she is more beautiful than the Sun and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light, she is found to be superior, for light is exceeded by night. But against wisdom, evil does not prevail. God loves nothing so much as the man who lives with wisdom.” Amen.
KEYWORDS / PHRASES:
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Luke 14:1, 7-14