by Father Mike Stubbs
If at all possible, we like things available on a 24/7 basis. More and more frequently, the world is accommodating that desire.
If you have a credit card, you can fill up your gas tank at a self-service station. Many fast-food places stay open all hours of the night, to satisfy your hunger. Entertainment is constantly available on TV or the radio. And there is always the Internet.
All these are fairly recent developments. But there is something far more important, which has always been available all hours of day or night, throughout the centuries. And that is God’s wisdom. It is always there for the asking.
In Sunday’s first reading, from Wis 7:7-11, we hear the purported voice of King Solomon recounting how he asked for wisdom from God: “I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.”
Why do I say the “purported” voice of King Solomon? The author of the Book of Wisdom has attributed it to King Solomon because of that king’s reputation for wisdom. The book was composed several centuries after King Solomon, and written in Greek, a language he would not speak. The practice of attributing a work to a famous person, King Solomon in this case, was fairly common. It was not considered deceptive. It was a way of capitalizing on the celebrity’s fame. The author wrote what he believed that Solomon would have written, had he been alive. The author was offering Solomon’s take on the subject — namely, wisdom.
Compared to God’s other gifts, wisdom is preferable, because wisdom is always available — “because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.” The metaphor of “never yields to sleep” fits well, since wisdom is personified here as a woman. Unlike other women, Lady Wisdom will never fall asleep.
The author of the Book of Wisdom has clearly fallen in love with Lady Wisdom. And like many a lover before him, he loudly proclaims her praises: “I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light.”
The author of the Book of Wisdom has chosen wisdom over worldly power, over earthly wealth and physical health. And it turns out that he made a good choice.
Because of wisdom, those other good things have come to him as well: “Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.”
In other words, he could have his cake and eat it, too.