Seat of Wisdom
(Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13)
Confucius says: By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
The foolish virgins of the parable suffered the bitter consequences of experience. Parents and teachers try to help children avoid just such situations. Ideally, youth will learn to reflect before they act. That is the goal of Wisdom, personified in the first reading.
Wisdom is described as resplendent; and “she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them.” How can I read these words without thinking of the Beautiful Lady?
One of the titles in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin is: Seat of Wisdom. Explanations differ, as does the iconography. Essentially, however, we are to understand that Jesus in his humanity learned some of his wisdom from his mother, who in turn acquired hers as she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
The refrain of the Responsorial Psalm, “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God,” is similar to a wise concept that is popular today, namely that there is in each of us a God-shaped hole that only God can fill. As long as it remains empty, we thirst.
St. Paul addresses the question of death so that the Thessalonians will not be unaware of the hope that is theirs. If we see that in the light of Jesus’ words, “Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour,” we encounter the deeper wisdom of the parable.
At La Salette, Mary comes not to impart knowledge, but wisdom, which is deeper, richer, more meaningful. She wants her people to learn from painful experience. She shows them what is happening (“I warned you last year with the potatoes. You paid no heed.”)
She also shows what might be (“If they are converted…”), and hints at the wisdom contained in the Church’s rhythm of prayer: daily (evening and morning), weekly (Mass), annually (Lent).
She wants us to “pay heed,” to imitate her, reflecting on all these things in our heart.