Date: Friday, Mar 24
Contributor: Mike Sirany
Wisdom 2:1a, 12-24
John 7:1-2,10, 25-30
Psalm 34: 15-22
They reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
“Short and sorrowful is our life.
“Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”
Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.
Wisdom (or The Wisdom of Solomon) was probably composed late in the first century BCE. Chapters 1-5 deal with the gift of immortality (which generally shows up late in biblical thought). The verses omitted from the above passage (2:2-11) speak of the unrighteous or ungodly reasoning that life is short, and since we are born into it by random chance, with no one ever returning from death, we may as well “live it up” and take full advantage of our time here on earth, even taking advantage of those less fortunate than ourselves, since in the end, nothing else really matters except our own good pleasure. “Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth. Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes…Let none of us fail to share in our revelry; everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment…let us repress the righteous poor man…” (Wis 2: 6-10).
Sounds similar to a beer commercial from a few years back. “You only go around once in life, so live life with all the gusto you can…” This observation from Wisdom over 2000 years ago rings true even today, and might be a good reminder of what a healthy religious or spiritual orientation can offer to the world. And since I have often lived a fairly self absorbed or egocentric life, these words call me during lent to reflect on the times I have failed to love or practice charity as fully as I could have. Fortunately, as Bishop Loya recently said, thank goodness we have a God who loves us unconditionally and everlastingly, and we don’t have to do anything to earn that love. So I pray the Jesus prayer in light of this understanding: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And forgive me for the times I too have focused on my own self-interest, instead of the needs of my brothers and sisters.