23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Wis 9:13-18b; Phlm 9-10, 12-17.
In the 1st reading from the Book of Wisdom we are made to realize that: “the deliberations of mortals are timid and unsure are our plans.” It is our common experience that economic planners often make mistakes in their calculations of supply and demand. We heard that thousands of units of cars were recalled because of design defects. Milk supply in the groceries became poison to babies. Courses offered in schools were closed because graduates could not get employment. The government made no move to fight drug addiction even though many lives had already been destroyed, lives of addicts themselves and the lives of others whom the addicts victimize, all because much money entered the pockets of drug pushers and producers and protectors. Great actors and actresses whom we admired and idolized ended up alcoholics or drug addicts. Human talents, wisdom and riches had not always produced the expected results. Pure human wisdom often turns against man himself and human society. Thus the question is asked and answered for us (Wis 9:13), “Who can know God’s counsel except that God himself had given Wisdom and sent his Holy Spirit from on high?” In Wis 9:4, Solomon prays, “Give me Wisdom,” and in v.6, “If Wisdom, who comes from you, be not with him, he shall be held in no esteem.” The experience of one’s own fragility and sinfulness makes us turn to God’s love and mercy. In Wis 9:10 Solomon prays, “Send Wisdom forth from your holy heavens, and from your glorious throne dispatch her that she may be with me and work with me, that I may know what is your pleasure.”
In the Gospel, we hear Jesus who is our Wisdom in the flesh. He teaches us how we can live lives pleasing to God. He reminds us to love the Lord our God above all things, “with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength” over and above our father or mother, over and above our siblings, over and above our spouse and children. You feel God’s call to be a priest but your father wants you to be a doctor of medicine, what will you choose? You feel God calls you to be a cloistered nun, but you mother wants you to be nurse to care for her in old age, whom shall you follow? You finished HRM and you want to join a missionary congregation of Sisters, but your dad wants you to manage the family restaurant, what will you choose? You are a civil engineering graduate and you feel God’s call to join religious men missionaries in Africa or South America, but you will leave behind a promising construction company here at home, what will you choose? God’s Wisdom demands denunciation of earthly riches and comfort, will I listen to him? In the 1600s travel was difficult and time consuming. For our missionaries from Spain to come to the Philippines, it took almost a year. And so many of them went to the missions not expecting to return home and many actually died in the missions. Detachment from family was always a given when one was a missionary. Even just to live out God’s commandments in civil society demands that I abstain from overpricing and cheating on salaries or greater profit for the sake of justice. Justice demands that I do not make 50% cut from the budget for a road or government building, so that infrastructures be solid and strong. And yet what actually happens? Government hospitals and clinics should be well provided with medicines and services, but because of the cuts for congressmen, governors and mayors our medical services are almost nil. And yet the words of the Lord are loud and clear, “If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Today the Lord asks us to make the choice. God’s wisdom is put in front of us, which do we choose?