- GOD´S WISDOM. In dialogue with the world

Created: Tuesday, 20 May 2014 Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 May 2014

GOD´S WISDOM
In dialogue with the world


1. – In the middle of the first century b. C., perhaps already under roman control, the Jewish community in Alexandria, a city under Greek culture, experiences a new period: dialogue between Hellenism and Judaism, before that completely confronted, appears; several schools of thought are, of course, present, and the temptation to let themselves to go after the dominant culture and the attraction of diverse worships making their own offers, exists; it is necessary, besides, to present the faith to those willing to know the truth. In this context is written (in greek language) the book of Wisdom. It is acknowledged like canonical neither by the Jewish nor by the Protestants
2. – In dialogue with his time society, the book tackles several subjects: God´s call is for everybody; life after death, the true triumph is that of the just person reaching immortality; the judgement of the powerful people, who will be powerfully examined; the secret dynamism moving history, with God´s liberating action amidst it; the world’s hidden meaning, world´s wonder that refers us to God´s greatness; idols´ vanity. Let us see.
3. – God´s call is for everybody, although many do not answer: “Love justice, you who rule over the world. Think rightly of God, seek him with simplicity of heart, for he reveals himself to those who do not challenge him and he is found by those who do not distrust him. Crooked thinking distances you from God and his Omnipotence, put to the test, confounds the foolish” (Wis 1, 1-3), “do not bring about your own death by your wrong way of living. And do not let the work of your hands destroy you. God did not make death… since he created everything, all creatures of the universe are for our good” (1, 12 -14). Psalm 90 prayer is understood: “Teach us to number our days, so that we may gain wisdom of heart”
4. - Many really think as follows: “Life is short and sad and there is no cure for death. It was never heard that anyone came back from the netherworld. By chance we were born; when life is over, it will be as if we never existed. The breath is our nostrils is like a puff of smoke, and thought is no more than a spark resulting from the movement of the heart. Put this out and the body returns to ashes, the spirit melts away like idle air. In time our name will be forgotten, no one will remember what we did” (2, 1-4), “Come then and enjoy all the good things; let us use creation with the zest of youth, making the most of choicest wines and perfumes and not passing by any flower of spring… let us post everywhere the signs of our joy; for that is the lot assigned to us (2, 6-9).
5. – And they act as follows: “Let us oppress the upright man who is poor, and have no thought for the widow, or respect for the white hair of old age. Let our strength be our right, since it is proved that weakness is useless. Let us set a trap for the righteous, for he annoys us and opposes our way of life; he reproaches us for our breaches of the Law and accuses us of being false to our upbringing. He claims knowledge of God and calls himself son of the Lord… Let us see the truth of what he says and find out what his end will be. If the righteous is a son of God, God will defend him… When we have condemned him to a shameful death, we may test his words. This is the way they reason, but they are mistaken, blinded by their malice. They do not know the mysteries of God nor they hope for the reward of a holy life; they do not believe that the blameless will be recompensed. Indeed God created man to be immortal in the likeness of his own nature, but the envy of the devil brought death to the world, and those who take his side shall experience death” (2, 10-24).
6. – Judaism could not solve the problem of the compensation, taking into account only present life. But, little by little, the conviction that man is called to life beyond death is being reached. However, how will it be?, will be only the soul, according to the philosophers that consider the body like a jail? The book of the Wisdom leads to the understanding that future life reaches the whole person: “The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their going is held as a disaster; it seems that they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace. Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope. After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, he has accepted them as a holocaust. At the time of his coming they will shine like sparks that run in the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king forever. Those who trust in him will penetrate the truth; those who are faithful will live with him in love, for his grace and mercy are for his chosen ones. But the godless who have ignored the upright and deserted the Lord, will meet the punishment their evil thoughts deserve” (3, 1-10), “the upright, even if he dies before his time, will be at rest. Honourable age neither depends on the length of days nor is the number of years a true measure of life. A man’s grey hair is understanding and a spotless life is ripe old age… Though his life soon ended, he travelled far… People saw but did not understand, and it did not occur to them that God´s grade and mercy are with his chosen ones, his protection is for the holy. “(4, 7-15).
7. – A severe judgement waits to the powerful of this world. The Lord does not move backwards before anybody: “Listen, O kings, and understand; rulers of the most distant lands take warning. Pay attention, you who rule multitudes and boast of the numerous subjects in your pagan nations… For the lowly there may be excuses and pardon, but the great will be severely punished…  For the Lord of all makes no distinction, or does he take account of greatness, but the powerful are to be judged more strictly. (6, 1-7).
8. – Wisdom is a gift that is requested and is granted. Salomon is a witness: “I, too, am a mortal man… I prayed and understanding was given to me; I asked earnestly and the spirit of Wisdom came to me… She brought with her all other good things… for she is an inexhaustible treasure for man and those who possess her have gained the friendship of God” (7, 1- 14), “I loved her and sought her from my youth; I strove to have her as my bride… she knows what took place in the past and forecasts the future. She has the art of interpretation and knows how to solve riddles, she foresees signs and wonders, the end of ages and eras” (8, 2-8). “God of our parents and Lord of mercy, whose word had created everything and who in Wisdom formed man to govern your creation to rule the world… give me the Wisdom that sits beside your throne… who has ever known your will unless you first gave him Wisdom and sent down your holy spirit to him?” (9, 1-17).
9. – God´s wisdom opens a way of liberation in the middle of history: “It was she who rescued a holy people from a nation of oppressors… leading them in a wonderful way… and one in heart they gave thanks for your saving hand. Wisdom gave speech to the dumb and makes infants speak clearly” (10, 15-21), “Wisdom gave success to their actions through a holy prophet; they crossed an uninhabited wilderness and pitched camp in inaccessible places” (11, 1-3): “you are the one who prepared a path through the sea and a safe way over the weaves. By this we understand that your are able to save us from any danger, and even the unskilled are able to sail”, “also at the beginning of time… the hope of the world took refuge on a raft and, led by your hand, left to the world the seed of a new race” (14, 3-6), “to know you is perfect righteousness and to acknowledge your power is the root on immortality” (15, 3), “the elements fight on the side of the righteous” (16, 17), “they would share alike both blessings and dangers” (18, 9), “the elements of nature interchanged their qualities as on a harp the notes change… fire burned more fiercely in water when water ceased to quench” (19, 18-20).
10. – The universe is a hymn to the creator. God´s wisdom is manifested in the world wonders: “The natural helplessness of men is seen in their ignorance about God… from the creatures we arrive, in analogy, to see his Author… they  possibly strayed though they searched for God and desired to find him… Even so they are not to be excused, for if they were able to explore the world, why did they not discover first the world’s Sovereign?” (13, 1-9). According to the Vatican Council II, “the man can, of course, know God with the natural reason, by means of the created things”. Nevertheless, thanks to the revelation “in the humanity’s present condition, all men can easily know, with absolute certainty and without any error, the divine realities, that, in itself are not inaccessible to human reason” (DV 6)
11. – Wisdom denounces idols´ vanity: “They gave to man-made artefacts the title of gods” (13, 10), “the invention of idols was the origin of licentiousness; when they were invented, life became corrupt” (14, 12), “with the sacrificial murder of children in their initiations, his secret mysteries and wild ceremonial orgies, they no longer keep their lives and marriages pure” (14, 23-24; see Rm 1, 26-31).
12. – The premature death of the pursued just (4, 7-18) recalls the figure of the aching Servant (Is 53). God´s wisdom refers to Christ. “Though we can not see him, we can at least discover him through his works” (Rm 1, 20), but – in a special way – God´s invisibility can be seen in Christ crucified, who is “God´s strength and God´s wisdom”. At the end, “the foolishness of God is wiser than humans´ wisdom” (1 Co 1, 23-25)
* Dialogue: The book of Wisdom, is up to date?
- it establishes a dialogue with the world
- God´s call is addressed to everybody
- God´s wisdom announces future life
- it judges the powerful
- it opens a liberation way in the middle of history
- it manifests in the world’s wonder
- it denounces idols´ vanity
- it refers to Christ, God´s strength and God´s wisdom
- we may recall some experiences.