Immersed in Christ: February 24, 2020
Monday, Week Seven of Ordinary Time
The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
(Responsorial: Psalm 19)
According to a footnote in the Christian Community Bible, James 3:13-18 tells us four things about wisdom.
1. Wisdom is a gift of God:
In every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind. 1
does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.... But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
2. which is acquired by prayer:
When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom. She came to me in her beauty, and until the end I will cultivate her.... I became resolutely devoted to her.... I burned with desire for her, never turning back. I became preoccupied with her, never weary of extolling her.... At first acquaintance with her, I gained understanding such that I will never forsake her. 2
3. by perseverance in meditation on the word of God:
Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed.... From infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 3
4. and by the purification of the heart through ordinary living. James does not speak of a theoretical wisdom but of practical wisdom. 4
In other words, we grow into wisdom by committed discipleship.
Mark 9:14-29 is one of the few places in the Gospel where Christianity itself seems to fail. Jesus’ disciples cannot cast the demon out of a young boy. These are presumably the same disciples to whom Jesus gave the power to heal, and specifically to “cast out demons.” Why isn’t the power working? 5
We can’t exclude the possibility that Mark is making a subtle association between the disciples’ powerlessness over the demon and their refusal to accept the “doctrine of the cross”—Jesus’ teaching that he was going to save the world by dying, and that his disciples must accept to lose their lives in order to save them. 6
As long as the Church continues to think in human priorities, and not as God thinks, we will be powerless to save the human race from its recurring sins of violence and exploitation that repeatedly “cast it into the fire and into the water, to destroy it.” Jesus said. “All things can be done for the one who believes.” We just can’t bring ourselves to believe that being killed is better than killing. That is because so few Christians are disciples. We accept what we are taught without trying to learn the mind and heart of Christ. That requires commitment.
Initiative: Don’t duck the hard questions. Let Jesus’ words confront you.
1 1 Corinthians 1:4-5.
2 Sirach ch. 51: 13-20.
3 2 Timothy 3: 14-17.
4 Liguori Publications, 1995, Seventeenth edition.
5 Matthew 10:8; Mark 16:17; Luke 10:17.
6 Mark 9:32; Matthew 16:21-26; 17:22-23; 20:18-19.