NOVEMBER 10, 2011, SAINT LEO THE GREAT: WISDOM 7:22-8:1 ; LUKE 17:20-25

WISDOM IS A VIRTUE THAT IN A CERTAIN MANNER INCLUDES IN HERSELF ALL THE GOOD QUALITIES OF EACH OF OUR FACULTIES. The corollary of this fact reveals why wisdom is so challenging to acquire in its fullness. It is this: we can possess true wisdom only in the measure we have acquired all the other virtues. Although intelligence and knowledge are essential for wisdom, they do not suffice, and would seem to contribute less to wisdom than such virtues as faith, trust, and generous love. We find evidence for this understanding of the virtue that is called sapientia in Latin, in Greek, sophia. both of which translate the Hebrew, hochma, the word that Jesus was familiar with from his youth. That wisdom was sought after and highly appreciated early in the history of Judaism is attested in numerous passages in the Bible. In a manner, a person's worth is measured by the wisdom displayed in living. The book of Proverbs, for instance, begins with setting its purpose and summing up its teaching in these words: “To know wisdom and discipline, get understanding of words, gain wise insight, be a man of enlightened righteousness, good sense and equity; to give to the simple cleverness, knowledge and resourcefulness to the youth. The wise man may hear and increase his store of knowledge.” (Prov. 1:2-5) Perhaps the chief stimulus for attaining to wisdom is given by Saint Paul when he writes that “Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God.”

It is highly appropriate that wisdom is so warmly commended to each of us here at this liturgy when we honor Saint Leo the Great on his feast day. He possessed all the qualities of mind and heart that the word of God associates with the true wisdom. Nor was he lacking in that courage that is rendered all the firmer by confronting the demands of duty at a time of political and theological challenges. He did not hesitate to assert the authority of the Holy See in the face of error and threatened division of the Church. He affirmed the primacy of the Roman See when it was called into question by attitudes and acts of Constantinople in the East, as well as by the Archbishop of Arles. In the theological controversy caused by the Monophysite movement, Leo clearly set forth the true Catholic doctrine in a manner that assured in fact the preservation of the true teaching on the two natures of Christ. His devoted life as well as the sharpness of his insight into the true nature of the Incarnation enabled him to lead the Church effectively through a period of threat to its integrity and fidelity to the revelation our Lord left behind to those who believed a so entrusted themselves to him.

The wisdom he displayed in his ministry along with his informed and courageous resistance to threats was so prominent in his ministry that he came to be known an Leo the Great as well as receiving recognition of his holiness as a saint. He demonstrates in his person and in his actions the truth that wisdom is attained to not only by knowledge and understanding but also by courageous witness even in the face of dangerous opposition.

Our Lord's teaching had already stressed for his followers that attaining to union with God entails not only understanding but also a loving trust. Education is incomplete and even misleading when its methods and attitudes fail to give major importance to both. Wisdom requires not only insight, prudence and informed knowledge; also essential, and more basic is the need for loving trust that integrates all we know with all that God tells us to value and commit our self to, with fidelity and courage. Saint Leo the Great is a living model of a man who achieved such an integration to the glory of God and for the well being of the true Church. May we profit from his intercession as well participate in this Eucharist so as to be more closely conformed to the Lord Jesus, who is made for us the wisdom of God and the powers of God.G

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger


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