Each of the readings in today’s Mass speak of wisdom and of using it to teach others. The Book of Wisdom, chapter 8, 2-6, speaks in glorious tones about wisdom and its intimate bond with God. It tells us of how we should cherish this virtue more than all else. For with wisdom, “…she teaches the knowledge of God.”

Today’s Gospel, Matthew 5, 13-19, having just enumerated the Beatitudes in the first 12 verses, Jesus turns to his apostles and tells them that “…you are the salt of the earth”. He goes on to say that, “…if the salt loses its savor… it is good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot.”

Bridging the two readings we have, in the first, wisdom being elevated as the highest virtue, and in the second, the Beatitudes (the expressions of Christianity) being extolled as the way of attaining total fulfillment in Christ. It is in the intimacy of God that true wisdom will be attained. And so too, with that intimacy we shall know and understand what Christianity truly means to us and to the world. Further on in the Gospel, Christ says, again to the apostles, “…you are the light of the world…men do not light a candle and then put it under a bushel basket… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”-1

This speaks to the very heart of Christianity. Our belief structure, our course of action is laid out before us. We are cautioned in other Gospels not to parade ourselves around so that people will see what we do and praise US. Our intent is to love one another, to help one another. Every good action we can do, if done in the name of Jesus and not our own, will sincerely have, as its goal, the betterment and the perfection of others. In seeing these deeds, done in the name of Jesus, people can and will raise their thoughts and hearts to glorify God.

One last caveat must be mentioned. The Gospel mentions putting our candle under a bushel basket. “Who would do that”, you ask? We do, whenever we feel embarrassed to speak of religion, to speak of our beliefs, to speak of the joys we feel when we encounter our God. We fear being considered a religious nut, out of it, not really all there. We cower under the gaze of human opinion. How sad. The very purpose that you and I are put on this earth, namely to help and love one another, we are willing to sacrifice, just so that people won’t think us strange.  That, I believe, falls under the category of putting our light, our knowledge, our God-given wisdom, under a bushel basket.

If we truly believe in God, if we truly believe in Christ’s teachings and His Resurrection, if we understand that Christ’s love works through us, then we are truly wise. Our wisdom is not intellectually obtained, it is God given. It is a gift that we can never re-pay; we cannot ever take credit for. Unfortunately, it is one that we can put a cloak over; we can hide under a bushel basket. At this time, we must ask ourselves the question, “How wise am I, really”?

-1 Matthew 5, 14-16

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