“God’s Infinite Wisdom and the Cross we Bear” (9/8/2019)
Fr. Ignatius John Schweitzer, OP
Our readings today point us to God’s wisdom, His astonishing wisdom. We often think of God as being all-powerful. And rightly so, for so He is. But what about God being all-wise? God has infinite wisdom just as much as He has infinite power. The two should be seen together. God’s infinite power and His infinite wisdom.
For sometimes, in life, we wonder, How could the all-powerful God allow this or that to happen? He’s all good, all loving, and all powerful, so how can He allow this evil or terrible thing to happen in our lives? Here we have to remember: God is also all wise. His infinite wisdom towers above our own wisdom and our own thoughts.
We tend to look at things looking for short-term solutions, or short-term happiness, but God’s vision of things is much broader, deeper, and substantial. He has an eternal perspective. His infinite wisdom is seeking our greatest good for eternity. We are willing to settle for a superficial satisfaction. But the all-good God wants our greatest good, our deepest happiness, and this takes time and probably some trials along the way.
The fact that God’s wisdom is infinite means that He can come up with endings to the story of our lives that we can’t quite grasp yet. Think of a book you read by a very creative author. You think the story is going one way but then there’s a twist in the plot and the story ends in a way you couldn’t imagine. How much more is this the case with God, for his wisdom is infinite, boundless!
St John Damascene, from the 8th century, says, “The ways of God’s Providence are many and they cannot be explained in words nor grasped by the mind.” “We know God is Wisdom and Goodness itself.” This great doctor of the Church stammers before God’s Wisdom. At present, we have to make the act of faith. As he says, “The ways of God’s Providence are many and they cannot be explained in words nor grasped by the mind.” We have to trust that God is the author of our story and He wants to bring about a beautiful ending to it all.
All the fairy tales we read as children, all those happy endings, all those “they lived happily ever after” pale in comparison to God’s lovely wisdom. The ending of the story that God has prepared for us will be so beautiful, so beautiful in eternity. In eternity, so we have to wait some, we have to hope, we have to trust in the Lord. We have to respond with our Yes to God’s plan, his beautiful plan for our lives, in time and eternity. We have to say Yes to the Lord. Yes to the Lord of Love and his beautiful plan for us.
Blessed Conchita says, “When there is love, thorns are turned into roses and crosses into pearls” (Before the Altar, 148).
Just like the best stories we’ve read, there’s always a twist in the plot: the thorn being turned into a rose. Things can seem so bad and so hopeless in the middle of the story. But this makes the happy ending of the story all the more beautiful. The more bleak the middle of the story, the more glorious is the hero’s victory.
And here we are today, still in the middle of our stories. We can only just begin to make out what God is going to bring about in the end. Our 1st Reading from the Book of Wisdom says, “Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends? For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans…Scarcely do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or who ever knew your counsel, [Lord], except you had given wisdom and sent your Holy Spirit from on high?”
And we are reminded here of St Paul’s words, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). Isn’t that lovely? Isn’t our Catholic faith lovely? What hope it gives! And not an empty hope. But a hope based in truth. A hope based in the truth of God. God’s infinite wisdom will have the last word. His Love will have the last word.
And our Gospel today is placed in this same context. The Cross is about God’s wisdom. It’s a wisdom that often towers above us and our own wisdom. St Paul likes this theme. The wisdom of the Cross. It may seem foolish to people but it is the Wisdom of God. True wisdom, eternal wisdom. Wisdom that brings about a beautiful ending to the story so that the last word will be Love, self-giving love.
As we share in the Cross of Jesus, we have to give ourselves in love. We may have to give up our little preferences, our petty desires, our shallow judgments, so that we might find true love—the self-giving love shown on the Cross. In our Gospel today, Jesus says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple…Anyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:25-33)
In the end, it’s about putting God first. Putting God first, even before our own selves, so that he might reign over us. That the Lord of Love might reign over every aspect of our lives. For then God’s wisdom reigns over us. God’s infinite wisdom reigns over our lives. And the beautiful story he is working out from it all moves forward to its glorious end.
We have an example of all this in the Blessed Virgin Mary. From her birth to her Assumption into heaven, she knew the difficulties of life. At the birth of her Son, she experienced being a stranger, finding no room in the inn. She experienced the sorrowful concern that came when Simeon foretold the sword that would pierce her heart. She experienced the loss of her child in Jerusalem as he stayed behind in the Temple. She experienced the pain of seeing her Son misunderstood and rejected. She experienced the intense suffering of watching her Son be crucified and die on the wood of the Cross.
But her Son Jesus was the hero of her story. His victory over sin and death in the glorious Resurrection was also her victory. And so we have the beautiful ending of the story of her life, as much as we can grasp it. She is assumed into heaven and crowned Queen of heaven and earth. So, we ask her to walk with us in our own stories. To accompany us with her motherly love. That along with her, at every step of our story, we may give our “fiat,” our Yes to God. Our Yes to God’s wise and beautiful story for our lives. Amen.