"Happy the man who finds wisdom"
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In my homily at Mass this morning, I made the point that the more I read Sacred Scripture, the more I find the answers to people’s questions. Well, maybe the passages from Scripture don’t fully answer people’s questions, but they certainly provide more understanding and authority than anything I say! I was especially thinking of questions on this site from bloggers as I’ve been reading through the Book of Proverbs recently. One passage (Prov 3: 11-12) in particular addressed questions about suffering:
“The discipline of the Lord, my son, disdain not;
spurn not his reproof;
For whom the Lord loves he reproves,
and he chastises the son he favors”.
This is identical to a passage from the Book of Judith (8:27) that I’m almost certain I’ve posted here before: “It is by way of admonition that (the Lord) chastises those who are close to him”. And, the passage from Proverbs is recalled exactly in Hebrews 12: 5-6. God reveals throughout Sacred Scripture that He disciplines those He loves. We shouldn’t hate the suffering or chastisement or reproof that comes from God because they are all signs that He loves us!
Now, I understand that this is a hard concept to grasp, indeed. But, please keep in mind that it is under the heading of Wisdom. God reveals true Wisdom to us in Sacred Scripture! In fact, here are the lines that follow the above passage in Proverbs:
“Happy the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding!
For her profit is better than profit in silver,
and better than gold is her revenue;
she is more precious than corals,
and none of your choice possessions can compare with her” (13-15).
In different places in the Gospel – such as today’s Gospel (Mk 9:30-37) - Jesus holds up children as the model for us to follow when it comes to faith. One of the best things about children is that they trust what their parents tell them. They trust that their parents are telling them the truth and they follow it. I can already hear the comments from some bloggers: “Father, you’re obviously not talking about my kids!”. This doesn’t apply to all kids all of the time, but by and large, what our Lord says about children is true: parents instill wisdom in their children and children accept it.
We are to be the same with the wisdom God has instilled in us through Sacred Scripture (and Sacred Tradition). The above passages, then, are Wisdom speaking to us about suffering. When we enter into relationship with God, we can expect some level of discipline via suffering. When we can recognize this discipline, we then use Wisdom to know that it is a sign of God’s love for us! For those who don’t accept the lesson of Wisdom from Proverbs and Judith, God has given an even greater lesson: His Son’s Passion and Death. He allows him to suffer tremendously, and yet has infinite love for His Son. Suffering, then, is a sign of God’s love for His Son and anyone who imitates the Son in taking up their cross. The Cross is a gift!
If we, as children of God, can simply accept what our Father reveals to us in Sacred Scripture, then we can begin to grow in wisdom and understanding.