“Wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

The headline is the last line of the day’s gospel reading (Mt 11:16-19).  In this short passage Jesus indicts the generation of His day for neither appreciating the preparation that John the Baptist preached nor believing in Jesus Himself (“the Son of Man” foretold in their Scriptures).  They did not have wisdom and it showed.

Jesus could have been speaking of any generation here.  What are the guidelines from the Bible for wisdom?  What are “her works.”  For starters, let’s take two choice passages from Scripture to help us out.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.  This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.  And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” — Jas 3:13-18

To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; she is created with the faithful in the womb.  She made among men an eternal foundation, and among their descendants she will be trusted.  To fear the Lord is wisdom’s full measure; she satisfies men with her fruits; she fills their whole house with desirable goods,
and their storehouses with her produce.  The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish.  He saw her and apportioned her; he rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and he exalted the glory of those who held her fast.  To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life. — Sir 1:12-18

In a world that not only does not fear the Lord (and by this we mean, per Fr. John Hardon, “a vivid sense of God’s greatness, a lively sorrow for the least faults committed, and a vigilant care in avoiding occasions of sin”) but does not believe in God or, if it does, ignores Him or actively works to offend Him, is it no wonder that we see the widespread and growing impurity, strife, unreasonableness, lack of compassion, evil outcomes, uncertainty and insincerity warned against by James?  If “God is not Great,” as a recent book title exclaimed, and if sin no longer exists, as is the apparently widespread belief, is it no wonder that the world seems upside down?  The enemy reverses the poles and plunges the world into darkness.  “If the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” (Mt 6:23)

Jesus calls us to be light to the world (Mt 5:14-15).  Have you thrown off your basket?  Pray to the Holy Spirit, the giver of all good gifts, for wisdom (Is11:1-2).

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