Scripture: Lectionary 491: Wisdom 1:1-7. Psalm 139: 1-3.4-6.7-8.9-10. Luke
We begin the Book of Wisdom with today’s first reading. Chapter 1:1-15 of
this writing is considered to be a prologue to the rest of the work. We
discover that wisdom is a spiritual gift we are to cultivate in order to
see God’s work within creation and redemption. Wisdom opens up for the
believer the paths of immortality of the soul and the preparation for
trusting in bodily resurrection as a part of the virtue of faith. The
theme for both came late in Judaism and this deuteron-canonical work is
among the works attesting to immortality. We are enabled by this inspired
work to see the panorama of God’s loving-kindness toward us in the
unfolding of the history of salvation from creation to redemption. The
book is a cosmic gift of the Holy Spirit that leads us to search and to
find the works of wisdom in the practical things of life as well as those
that touch upon the spiritual realm and the life beyond this life.
Holy Wisdom goes beyond the secular wisdom of the Greeks and the Egyptians.
In fact we can rely on the scripture scholars who tell us the book
confronts both Greek and Egyptian beliefs and goes beyond them while
carefully scrutinizing them and using what is helpful for its own message
of great hope for us.
The person who wrote this is an eloquent person who writes with great
clarity and often is poetic. It springs from his personal experience of
pursuing and meditating on Lady Wisdom. The writer is an Alexandrian Jew
who could be contemporaneous with Paul and Jesus, Philo, and Apollo the
possible writer of the New Testament book of called Hebrews. It is
definitely one of the latest books to come into the Bible after the period
of Alexander the Great and the ensuing two centuries when the concept of
the immortality of the soul was accepted within Judaism. The inspired
writer “attempts to revive the flagging spirits of his hard pressed
people.”( David Winston).
The book itself has sections that are quite appropriate for the
celebration of feasts dedicated to the martyrs or to those Eucharistic
celebrations for the deceased. It has been cited at Jewish funerals.
Wisdom is Sophia in Greek hence it is often called Woman Wisdom or Lady
Wisdom. Later it will be associated with the word Memra in Aramaic and
Logos in Greek; thus it is also a fitting title for Jesus, the Living Word
of God, become flesh and then dwelling among us as Wisdom personified.
John’s Prologue is a marvelous poem that is filled with Wisdom in so many
ways. We are encouraged to read more about our passages in Wisdom for this
day by meditating also on Proverbs 7:25-26, 29-30 and 8:2-3, 22-31; Job
28:12-28; and Sirach 24:1-22.