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Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 7:22-8:1 & Lk. 17:20-25

Today’s first reading is the very heart of the Book of Wisdom: the list of qualities that characterise godly wisdom is impressive. Some of them even seem to describe God Himself. This shows that inspired wisdom, while a gift from God, shares in the very nature of God and does not exist apart from God as bits of knowledge which the human mind can deduce. It cannot be attained through intellectual reasoning but is imparted only by the Holy Spirit.

Wisdom is the first and the best of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive at Confirmation. But could it be that we have treated it like some gifts from family or friends that were beautifully wrapped but never opened, placed in a drawer and then forgotten?. At our Confirmation we received the gift of Wisdom from the Holy Spirit but have we used that gift or is it lying dormant, unopened and unused?

How beautiful and mysterious is God’s wisdom. How infinitely far above us is the majestic and inexhaustible marvellous God Who is Wisdom itself! Through our Baptism Jesus makes us God’s sons and daughters, and His Holy Spirit makes us participants and sharers in His divine wisdom. How blessed are we that this wisdom is now available to all of us in Christ!

When I was a young priest an elderly priest I loved and respected gave me some valuable advice. He said never let a day go by without asking God to give you His Holy Spirit and His gift of wisdom. They were wise words. Remember what God said, “I will never refuse My Holy Spirit to the one who asks for Him.” Divine wisdom is a great gift, and God calls us to hold on to it dearly. Let us protect our inheritance by opposing every inner evil drive that sets itself up against the wisdom of God. Let us deepen our grasp of His wisdom by staying close to Jesus. Let us be sure we spend time in prayer and reading Scripture, asking the Holy Spirit to increase His gift of Wisdom in our hearts. Then we will learn how to judge our thoughts and actions against the wisdom Jesus reveals.

What can lightning tell us about the coming of the Lord and His kingdom? The Jews in Jesus' time were watching in great anticipation for some sign which would indicate when the Messiah would appear to establish the kingdom of God. The Pharisees' question on this matter was intended to test Jesus since they did not accept Him as the Messiah. Jesus surprised them with the answer that the kingdom of God was already here!

Jesus spoke of the coming of God's kingdom as both a present event and an event which would be manifested at the end of time. The "Day of the Lord" was understood in the Old Testament as the time when God would manifest His glory and power, and overthrow the enemies of His people, Israel. The prophet Amos declared that the "Day" also meant judgment for Israel as well as the nations (Amos 5:18-20). The prophet Joel proclaimed that at this "Day" those who truly repented would be saved, while those who remained enemies of the Lord, whether Jew or Gentile, would be punished (see Joel 2).

Why did Jesus associate lightning with the "Day of the Lord"? In the arid climate of Palestine, storms were infrequent and seasonal. They often appeared suddenly or unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere, covering everything in thick darkness. With little or no warning lightning filled the sky with its piercing flashes of flaming light. Its power struck terror and awe in those who tried to flee from its presence. Jesus warned the Pharisees that the "Son of man" would come in like manner, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, on the clouds of Heaven to bring God's judgment on the "Day of the Lord". No special sign will be needed to announce His appearance. Nor will His presence and power be veiled or hidden, but all will recognize Him as clearly as the lightning in the sky.

Lord Jesus Christ, may Your kingdom come and may Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Be the Ruler of our hearts and the Master of our lives that we may always live in the freedom of Your love and truth.

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