Once again, I find myself scratching my head after that last statement from Jesus. On the surface, it’s not obvious –at least to me - how his parables have anything to do with what he is teaching. What does a carpenter building a tower and a King going to war have to do with that last statement: “In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” Does not compute…I had to think long and hard before it finally made sense to me. This reading is about Wisdom… which is also the theme of the first reading.
What Jesus is saying is that the carpenter needs to be WISE enough to make sure he can complete his project before he starts it. The King needs to be WISE enough to make sure he has sufficient troops and the support of the people before taking his country to war. Taking it in THAT context, the last statement would mean – anybody who wants to be a disciple of Jesus must be WISE enough to get rid of ANYthing that stands between us and Jesus…. Any possessions… any thing – or any ONE. Not that we have to disown our family – but if our family is keeping us from Jesus – we have to have the wisdom to put Jesus first.
It’s all about Wisdom. What is the difference between KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM?
Somebody once said that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit – not a vegetable. But wisdom is knowing not to put the tomato in a fruit salad.
How do we gain wisdom?
If you’re like me, we learn from our mistakes. I made a couple of big mistakes this week – one that just about gave a future bride a heart attack – and another that may have cost me a friendship. I hate making mistakes – they wrench my gut and stress me out…but I learn from them. I guarantee you I have gained some wisdom about how to handle these situations in the future.. because that pit in my stomache is a powerful teacher of wisdom.
Most of us learn because we have to… for example… most of us have a little bit of knowledge of cancer and treatment of cancer – but it’s really only when we are forced to take care of a family member who is suffering through cancer – THAT is when we gain the wisdom of how to help them cope… the wisdom of how to deal with the doctors… and yes – the wisdom of how to deal with our own emotions. These painful situations are some of the best teachers given to us. The Holy Spirit, given from God, is so much more visible and so much more able to teach us when our hearts are torn open by grief.
As the readings so clearly tell us – we would have No wisdom at all, if it had not been given to us from above. To paraphrase the first reading – we have trouble figuring out ANYTHING with our human perspective….We have trouble figuring out our spouse... We say things that others completely misinterpret... We can only GUESS at why many things happen the way they do in our world. If we are so clueless about the things that are right here in front of us, How can we possibly understand God’s plan?
We can only understand – or START to understand – if the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom.
How does the Spirit give YOU wisdom? Is it through reading and contemplating scripture? Is it through thinking hard about our mistakes and what we’re supposed to learn from them? Maybe the Spirit teaches you wisdom by putting you into situations that stretch your emotions – by giving you that hole in your heart or that pit in your stomache – perhaps for you, THAT is when the Holy spirit goes into overdrive to teach wisdom.
Reminds me of Larry… in the eighth grade, he was an 85 pound weakling. The bullies at school would push him around and throw his books on the ground all the time. He prayed one night as he cried himself to sleep – God please give me strength! In his dreams that night, he heard God tell him to clear all the rocks out of the pasture behind his house…. So the next day, he went about carrying rocks out of the pasture and dropping them in the fence row. After about three days of this, he was done… but there was one big rock right in the middle of the pasture which he couldn’t budge. He figured he did what he was supposed to, so he left that rock there. That night again in a dream, God told him to keep pushing against that rock. Although it didn’t make sense to him, for the next week, he would spend all his free time after school pushing on that rock. Again he was about to give up, when God reminded him to keep pushing. This went on for almost a year, until, exasperated, he cried to God – you told me to move this rock a year ago and I haven’t moved it an inch! I KNOW I’m weak – that’s why I asked for strength! God said – I never told you to MOVE that rock – I just told you to push against it. A year ago you prayed for strength… look at your arms and legs… you’re stronger than anyone in your class now. I was merely giving you what you prayed for.
Larry gained strength by pushing against the rock that God put in front of him.
WE gain wisdom by pushing against the rocks that God puts in front of us… we learn from all the painful situations that come our way….and we will keep learning
…. as long as we keep pushing