Dear Reader, I begin this reflection in this way not to spark a discussion of the validity of the Apocrypha, but rather to introduce a short passage that was read during Morning Prayer this last Monday. It is a section of Scripture that we should all read, study and inwardly digest.
Do not refrain from speaking at the crucial time, and do not hide your wisdom. For wisdom is known through speech, and education through the words of the tongue. Never speak against the truth, but be mindful of your ignorance. Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to stop the current of a river, nor show partiality to a ruler. Strive even to death for the truth and the Lord God will fight for you. Sirach 4: 23-28God gave each and every one of us the gift of reason and intelligence, not so that we could merely decipher the secrets of His Creation (although he would not have shown us those secrets or given us the ability to think and the desire to explore if He had not wanted us to see and feel the magnificence of all that He created) but rather so that we could, through the majesty of His Creation, come to recognize that there is a God, and through the revelation of Himself to us by His presence among His people and through His Holy Word, come to know Him.
I believe that wisdom is reason built upon the unshakable foundation of Holy Writ. We are smart enough to figure out how to describe and even break open the atom; we are smart enough to send man into outer space; we are smart enough decode the very building blocks of human genetics; but are we wise enough to make proper use those discoveries; and, possibly more importantly, are we wise enough not to use them?
“Do not refrain from speaking at the crucial time, and do not hide your wisdom.” Sirach tells us that we will have those opportunities to use the gifts that God has given to us, and that we are to use them for His purposes. He also warns, “Never speak against the truth, but be mindful of your ignorance.” Someone once told me that the true measure of one’s intelligence is knowing when you know nothing and then being willing to admit it. We find the unvarnished, unmistakable and eternal Truth in the words of Holy Scripture. The Truth of God’s Love, His Grace, His Judgment and His Mercy are right there in black and white.
However, just as one must work to amass the knowledge that allows one to comprehend and appreciate Creation, one must also spend the time reading, studying and praying over Scripture in order to develop the wisdom that allows one to: “Strive even to death for the truth.”
To my original thesis: wisdom is reason built upon the unshakable foundation of Holy Writ, I supply but, one important addendum. For wisdom to take its full and proper place in the Truth, it must be guided by the tradition of the Church. For two thousand years and beyond, the Church through her bishops, priests, theologians and teachers have studied Scripture and have developed the traditions, the dogma and the doctrines of our Faith. We may not always agree with those interpretations and teachings, but we discard the wisdom of the Church at great cost to ourselves and to the generations who depend on us to teach them the Truth. The Truth being that , so that they can know the root of their salvation, Jesus Christ.
Dear Reader, we look to God’s Holy Word. We do so using the intelligence that God has given us. We rely on the traditional voice and teaching of the Church to direct us. What more can we do?