On True Wisdom
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 20, 2009 (25B), by Pope Benedict XVI
Discussion Questions & Online Bible Study
"To 'Do' Works of Peace We Need to 'Be' Men of Peace"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 20, 2009 (www.Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today, for the customary Sunday reflection, I will take as my point of departure the passage from the Letter of James that is proposed to us by today’s liturgy (3:16-4:3), and I will pause, in particular, on an expression that is striking for its beauty and contemporary relevance. It has to do with the description of true wisdom that the Apostle contrasts with false wisdom.
While the latter is "worldly, material and diabolical, and is recognized by the fact that it provokes jealousies, arguments, disorder and every kind of evil deed" (cf. 3:16), on the contrary "[true] wisdom, which comes from above is first of all pure, then peaceful, meek, docile, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere" (3:17).
A list of seven qualities, according to the biblical custom, from which perfection of authentic wisdom comes along with the positive effects that it produces. As first and principal quality, almost the premise for the others, St. James sets down "purity," that is, sanctity, the transparent reflection -- so to say -- of God in the human soul. And, like God, from whom it comes, wisdom does not need to impose itself by force, because it has the invincible vigor of truth and love, that affirms itself. That is why it is peaceful, meek and docile; it does not need to be partial, nor does it need to lie; it is indulgent and generous, it is recognized by the good fruits that it bears in abundance.
Why not stop every once in a while to contemplate the beauty of this wisdom? Why not draw from this unpolluted source of God’s love the wisdom of the heart, which cleanses us from the filth of lies and egoism? This holds true for everyone, but, in the first place, for those who are called to be promoters and "weavers" of peace in religious and civil communities, in social and political relations and in international relations. In our day -- perhaps also because of certain dynamics proper to mass society -- one often sees a lack of respect for truth and the word together with a widespread tendency to aggressiveness, hatred and vendettas.
"The fruit of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace," St. James writes (3:18). But to "do" works of peace we need to "be" men of peace, entering the school of "the wisdom that comes from above," to assimilate its qualities and produce its effects. If everyone, in his own circle, succeeds in rejecting the lie and violence in intentions, in words and in actions, carefully cultivating sentiments of respect, understanding and esteem for others, perhaps it would not resolve every daily problem, but we could face them more serenely and effectively.
Dear friends, once more Sacred Scripture leads us to reflect on moral aspects of human existence, but starting from a reality that precedes the same morality, that is, from true wisdom. Let us ask God with confidence for wisdom of heart, through the intercession of her who welcomed Wisdom Incarnate, Jesus Christ, into her womb and gave him birth. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!