“I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.”—Wis 7:7
Friends, today I invite you to consider this question: What do you seek? What is the deepest desire of your heart, your mind? If God granted you one gift of your choosing, what would that be?
In our readings today, we encounter two different people who are given just that extraordinary opportunity to ask the Lord for a particular gift. Solomon relates his prayer in which he entreats God not for riches, power, or long life, but for wisdom: “I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me…I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light.” In today’s Gospel reading, we meet the rich young man who runs to Jesus, kneels before him, and asks him in earnest, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” These two noble desires, wisdom and eternal life, arise from a common root in the human heart, for they reflect the longing for what does not pass away: for something beyond the transience of material existence.
Philosophy and the Search for Truth
During my college years, I kept a print of Raphael’s School of Athens posted on my wall. It was the only piece of art in my otherwise austere dorm room, and I often gazed upon that picture in moments of reflection. The painting depicts the ancient philosophers gathered in the Academy of Athens, and at its center we see Plato and Aristotle in deep discussion. The elder, Plato, points a finger up to the heavens, while Aristotle points to the ground. This dialogue between the two always seemed to me an icon of man’s search for truth.
What, then, is wisdom? It is more than mere acquisition of knowledge, more than intellectual excellence. Philosophers have sought it throughout history and across all cultures. As we read through Scripture, we discover wisdom entails something far deeper and more mysterious than knowledge; it might be expressed most simply as learning to see as God sees, to think with the mind of God. Wisdom sees reality with an eternal perspective.
Wisdom in Christ
Consider these lines from the lovely Canticle of Wisdom:
“For [wisdom] is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness.”
This praise of wisdom as an image or mirror of God’s inner life leads us straight to Christ. St. John tells us He is the Logos, the very Word of God. Thus, all of mankind’s desire for wisdom throughout history finds consummation in the Person of Christ, He who is wisdom incarnate.
Indeed, our own search for truth, our longing for deep wisdom, will always draw us to Him. St. Augustine, in his Confessions, writes of his encounter with a book by Cicero which kindled his own love for wisdom: “My heart burned with longing for the immortality that wisdom seemed to promise.” Yet even in those years before his conversion to faith, he sensed that the wisdom of the philosophers remained incomplete without the name of Christ.
Today, allow yourself to hunger for wisdom beyond the things of this world. Let us run to Jesus and kneel before Him, like the rich young man, asking Him for the gift of eternal life. Allow Jesus to teach you in prayer, and to illuminate your mind. Yet let us not fail where the rich young man did. We must be willing to let go of our disordered attachments, whether possessions, wealth, or even family, in order to receive the gift the Lord desires to give us. The search for truth, for wisdom, will always lead us ultimately to the gaze of Christ. When He looks at you with love and invites you to give everything away so that you may follow Him, how will you respond?