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Wisdom of God
Thursday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
The Lord said: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
Opening Prayer: Holy Spirit, open in me your gift of wisdom. Help me to know and understand what you are teaching me in today’s Gospel. Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to listen to you and receive your words without hesitation.
- Hypocrisy Exposed: “The Lord said: ‘Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed.’” Of all of Jesus’ confrontations with the Pharisees, this Gospel passage offers one of the most scathing rebukes. The piercing words of the Lord, “for they killed them and you do the building,” exposed the true character of these men and revealed their hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is defined as “a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs, or principles that one does not really possess.” When God sent prophets to guide the people of Israel on his behalf, they were rejected and often killed by those to whom they were sent. Jesus found these Pharisees and scholars of the law no different than their ancestors. What would Jesus say about us? The Church has through the centuries proclaimed the truth of Jesus Christ. Do we faithfully follow all she teaches, or do we verbally proclaim the Creed at Mass but then pick and choose which teachings we will adhere to?
- The Wisdom of God: Jesus clearly warned the Pharisees of what was to come if they persisted in resisting the wisdom of God. These Pharisees were quite familiar with the wisdom of God as revealed through Scripture. They knew the story of Cain, who killed his brother Abel and in doing so brought death into the world. They knew how the prophet Zechariah had warned the people of Judah not to transgress the Lord and was killed for it. These words of Jesus should have provoked them to self-examination. Yet, the Pharisees lacked receptivity and hardened their hearts toward Jesus. Jesus speaks to us just as he spoke to these men. Do we receive the graces he sends with open hearts? Are we docile to Jesus as he instructs and corrects us? “The discipline of the Lord, do not spurn; do not disdain his reproof; For whom the Lord loves he reproves, as a father, the son he favors” (Proverbs 3:11-12).
- Key of Knowledge: “You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” Wisdom is considered the “key” that opens all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit including knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. “They [gifts of the Holy Spirit] complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations” (CCC 1831). By failing to heed the warning of the wisdom of God the Pharisees and the scholars of the law fulfilled Jesus’ words. They, “act[ed] with hostility toward him … for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.” We do not have to make the mistakes these Pharisees made. Jesus gave us his Church so that we have full access to the wisdom of God. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to lead us in self-examination: Are we faithful to Jesus through our fidelity to his Church? If the answer is “not always,” let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of docility to the wisdom of God.
Conversing with Christ: My Lord, I desire to be faithful and obedient to you and am called to self-examination of my character. Please send your Holy Spirit so that I see myself through your merciful eyes. I am open and receptive to any course correction I may need to more closely follow your will. Jesus, I trust in you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will read one chapter of the book of Wisdom and will complete the entire book by the end of the month. “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are safe” (Proverbs 28:26).
For Further Reflection: Novena to the Holy Spirits for the Seven Gifts.
Nan Balfour is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She volunteers as a writer and speaker for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life.