Scripture: Lectionary 343. Sirach 4:11-19. Psalm 119:188.8.131.52-175. Mark 9:38-40:
Our liturgical readings taken from the wisdom thought of Sirach is supplemented by the Psalms chosen for our response and meditation. They are psalms that are from the wisdom lineage of the Temple prayers and songs. We see this in the frequent use of Psalm 1, Psalm 19 A and B, and Psalm 119 the longest in the Psalter. They help us ponder over the wisdom writings with a prayer and with our own meditation on the themes expressed in the first reading.
Jesus is often called Wisdom by contemporary theologians. He is filled with the wisdom coming from the Holy Spirit. Today he is teaching wisdom to his disciples by making sure they are tolerant of others who share in special gifts from God and done in Jesus’ name. His disciples need wisdom in learning how to be tolerant of others and not judgmental or jealous. Maybe the two are related in lack of tolerance. The case at hand is that a man is casting out demons in the name of Jesus even though he is not a disciple of Jesus. Jesus teaches his disciples practical wisdom seen in good judgment. The tells them, “Anyone who is not against us, is for us.”
Sirach illustrates the role of wisdom in the lives who are seeking her (Sophia, Wisdom personified). Her wisdom is to be received and acted upon in those who love her; it again is practical wisdom and down to earth.
Not only individuals but communities are called to be followers of wisdom. Members are to be alert to forms of prejudice, rash judgment of others, virulent backbiting, hurtful sarcasm. Arrogance or a feeling that we are better than others is also a part of the picture when a group lacks wisdom. Tolerance is a gift that fosters honesty and transparency; it listens to the others, enters into dialogue with them, stays at table with them and has no pretense of knowing all things. Like the disciples we too need to realize that those who are not with us may not be against us.
We pray for the gift of Wisdom from the Holy Spirit. We learn to never despise anyone. We praise those who praise God and Jesus. We learn from them. Wisdom is an ongoing process and thus it fits in with the liturgical concept of ordinary time. Wisdom however is not ordinary; it is extraordinary and a graced gift from God. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.