SHARING IN GOD’S LIFE THROUGH HIS WISDOM AND HIS WILL
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ GN 3:9-15; 2 COR 4:13-5:1; MK 3:20-35 ]
Of all questions we have in life, only two are really important: namely, where did we come from? And what is our purpose in life? These two questions are answered clearly in the opening chapter of Genesis. Firstly, we all come from God, whom we acknowledge as our creator. Secondly, we are all created for intimacy with God, which is a sharing in His life. This invitation to intimacy with God is anthropomorphically portrayed in the dialogal relationship between God and Adam in the garden of Eden. Yes, such is the privilege of man.
But what does it mean to share in His life? Concretely, this necessarily entails a sharing of His mind and will; or if you like, His knowledge and love; or His wisdom and compassion. In other words, when we share in the knowledge and wisdom of God, we will also come to share in His will, which is His love. Hence, knowing and willing in unity with God is to share in God’s being and life. Conversely, the failure to share in His knowledge results in man’s will being at variance with His will.
Indeed, the mistake of our first Parents is our mistake as well. It is an existential and historical fact that man is not interested in sharing in God’s knowledge and thus is always fighting against God’s will. Like Adam and Eve, we do not seek to grow in the knowledge of God through our intimacy with Him. Instead, we seek consort with the serpent, listening to him and trusting in his wisdom, which is that of the world’s. Like our first parents, we are fooled into believing that the knowledge of the world symbolized in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, is the way to life. Indeed, if God forbade Adam And Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was because they would think like the world and become more ignorant instead. By seeking to understand life not through the wisdom of God but their own ways, Adam and Eve were relying on their own human knowledge and self-will.
The truth is that the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. The ways of the world cannot lead us to see beyond the immediate and the superficial. Indeed, this is what Paul is cautioning us. For those who are unspiritual, they can only see the visible and tangible things which are temporal and passing. But for those who are spiritual, they possess the eyes of God and see the eternal, the invisible, things beyond the apparent. Indeed, the foolishness of Adam and Eve is illustrative of such worldly ignorance.
But what is the root of such ignorance? It originates from pride. It is pride that leads us to have a false and exaggerated understanding of ourselves. It is pride that caused the downfall of our first parents. Such deep pride is symbolically portrayed in two ways. Firstly, they did not trust in God’s wisdom and therefore disobeyed His will. Secondly, in their embarassment in their nakedness before God. Pride prevented them from being open to God and surrendering themselves to Him. Now they had to hide themselves, their real selves before God. This loss of authenticity, inner conviction and fidelity to oneself is underscored by our first parents’ refusal to acknowledge their ignorance and faults. Instead of taking responsibility for their lack of discernment and trust, they tried to justify themselves. Adam blamed Eve; and Eve pushed the blame to the serpent. Since then, man has always been exonerating himself and putting on masks to run away from reality, living in self-deception.
The scripture readings today invite us to put our trust in the wisdom and plan of God for us in our lives. Instead of relying on ourselves and our own limited understanding of what is truly good for us, we are called to be open to the greater wisdom of God and to surrender our lives to Him. This wisdom of God is expressed in His will for us. In the words of Jesus, doing the will of God is sharing in the wisdom of God.
Thus, for those who trust in His wisdom, they become truly the sons and daughers of God. For what could be more intimate in any relationship than a sharing of heart and mind. It is no wonder that Jesus declared that those who had this spiritual relationship with Him, sharing in His vision and life, were His family members. Doing God’s will is the sure sign that we share in His wisdom and love; and therefore share in His life. This entitles us to be recognized as truly sharing in God’s image and likeness.
Conversely, those who do not do the will of God, even though they might be physically related to Jesus, are far from the kingdom of God. Such was the irony of the relatives of Jesus. We are told that they were convinced that Jesus was out of His mind. They were closed to Jesus. Some even accused Him of having an unclean spirit in Him. This is a danger we can well afford to pay attention to if we do not want to fall into the same category of Jesus’ relatives. Not to be open to Him tantamounts to rejecting the Holy Spirit who is the wisdom of God. And such a sin cannot be forgiven since God cannot force us to accept His invitation if we are closed to the truth. Hence, for such a person, he or she cannot share in the life of God.
The consequences of living a life apart from the life of God are far-reaching. In the first place, one cannot find real satisfaction and contentment in life. This lack of contentment arises from our inner division. There is now a constant struggle between good and evil; wisdom and falsehood within us. Torn between the good and bad spirits, one cannot expect to find peace and calmness. Such interior division will then be manifested in our lack of orientation in life. We lose our center, become impatient, selfish and angry towards others. This is the divided kingdom that Jesus was speaking about in today’s gospel. Such kingdom is destined to fall. Is there a way out?
There are two ways that we can go about it. The first way is the hard way. But we will also arrive at the kingdom of God. In this way, one struggles to do the will of God. Of course, this is often an uphill task. We will have to go through the agony in the garden with Jesus. For it is in the garden that we try to streamline our will with God’s will. This struggle is necessary and almost inevitable. But as St Paul tells us in the second reading, it is a necessary stage of growing in faith. Nevertheless this interior struggle will result in the destruction of the outer man of ours so that the inner man is renewed day by day. As we wrestle within ourselves, surrendering our fears to the Lord, we will come to realize that this tent which we had mistaken for a palace would be folded up.
When that happens we have arrived at the stage of wisdom. This is the stage when we, as Paul says, become a house which is not only built up by God but also His dwelling place, since God lives in us. Such a person already lives a resurrected life in this present life. He becomes truly a happy person since he sees his whole life as a life of thanksgiving and glory to God in all that he does according to how God had planned for him. He can therefore live without much undue anxiety. Instead he lives in peace, love and contentment and self-surrender.
But one need not go through such a difficult path to attain the wisdom of God. There is an easier way – the way of love. It is the way of intimacy. In love and intimacy, one comes to a real understanding of the person. Love brings about an understanding of both the heart and mind. Such intimacy creates trust and faith. Truly, if many of us find it difficult to do the will of God, it is simply the lack of understanding of His plan and trust in His wisdom because of the lack of intimacy with the Lord. For this reason, we must go back to the original plan of creation, which is to have a constant dialogue with the Lord.
Indeed, it was Paul’s personal relationship with Jesus that enabled him to trust in Him. It was his intimacy with Jesus that gave him the faith to trust and surrender himself to Jesus and God’s providence. For Paul, his experience of the risen Lord was enough to convince him that God’s wisdom is beyond man’s imagination; and that death and suffering cannot triumph over the plan of God. His wisdom is found even in the cross. If that was so for Jesus, it must also be for us.
Yes, we too are called to surrender ourselves to the plan of God. We are called to have a real intimacy with Jesus so that we can see life through His perspective. This is the paradigm shift that is required for us to see the wisdom of God’s plan for us so that doing His will is not a burden but rather a most liberating and life-giving thing to do. This is the kind of faith which Jesus exhorts us to cultivate in today’s gospel. With such a faith no one and nothing can break us. We will always stand tall no matter in good times or in bad times, for we know God’s wisdom and love is expressed in His will.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online, nor will they be available via email request.