NOVEMBER 7, 2005- WISDOM 1:1-7; LUKE 7:1-6

GOD IS THE WITNESS OF THE INMOST SELF AND THE SURE OBSERVER OF THE HEART. The nature of God, his relation to the world and to his creature, man and woman, is described at length in the Book of Wisdom. The views it expresses have important consequences for the spiritual life. The words I have just cited from todayís first reading are fundamental for our manner of conceiving of God and in determining our relation to him. That God is present to our inmost self tells us a great deal about his nature and his plan for our human condition. For only a pure and supremely intelligent spirit can be a witness to what is most interior in our self and a sure observer of the heart. In this same passage we are told that this Lord "is to be found by those ho do not put him to the test" but approach him in simplicity of heart and with trusting faith.

We learn too from this author that God is holy and loves justice so that in order to gain his approval we must ourselves practice justice and cultivate virtue. It is of such a person, he writes when he states "He has sought to please God, so God has loved him." We learn then that God is not only all-knowing, he is also loving and seeks to gain the love of the creature he has made for himself. He will express this love in fidelity to those who live for him, he adds later: "the virtuous live forever, their recompense lies with the Lord, the Most High takes care of them." The wisdom that our author takes as his theme is more than an attribute that we can acquire by acting consistently in keeping with this view of God; wisdom is a companion of God; more, "She is a breath of the power of God, pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty." To gain this wisdom is to receive her as a gift; to possess her is to become, like her, "an image of his goodness" (7:26).

We learn from meditating on this wisdom that to seek after this gift of God is enter upon the way of eternal life. To walk in this way is to be increasingly fashioned in the likeness of God himself. Not long after this doctrine of heavenly wisdom was conceived and written about, St. Paul told the Corinthians that he preaches "a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God." Henceforth, anyone in pursuit of true wisdom that leads to eternal life must find it through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In todayís Gospel Jesus himself speaks of the power of a firm faith in God. The apostles had come to realize their need for a stronger faith after observing the great works that our Lord was able to accomplish and which he presented as a power he received from God. They saw that compared to his faith in the heavenly Father theirs was weak indeed and so they approached him with the request: "Increase our faith." Jesus seems to have considered that the best way to respond was to indicate just how great is the power of faith. In doing so, he implies that it depends on them to cultivate it, for God will not refuse it to those who truly desire it. Prior to his death and resurrection he cannot increase their faith directly; he can only indicate how great a gift it is and show in his own person reason for them to open their heart to him and so to grow in faith by acknowledging Godís power and wisdom at work in him.

Faith is of such a nature that no one can give it to us; God himself has so willed us to be made that only by our free choice can our faith come to life and grow. Nothing is more personal than living faith; it must arise from the inner recesses of our self and be affirmed by our choice, quite deliberately. Faith establishes a relationship as a person to another person. It includes more than an assent of the mind: it engages the heart and the will. To put our faith in the Lord is to entrust our very self to him; it involves opening our person to him at the point where our sense of self arises so that we are no longer a separate entity apart from his person. Faith is the beginning of a new way of being alive, of knowing our self and of relating to God and all others. May our participation in this Eucharist serve to increase our faith that we might more worthily live and walk in the presence of GOD, THE WITNESS OF THE INMOST SELF AND THE SURE OBSERVER OF THE HEART.

    Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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