The Gift of Wisdom

Novena to the Holy Spirit (Introduction+Nine Days)

Day Eight-Friday of the 7th week of Easter

Is there anyone among you who is wise and understanding? He is to prove it by his good life, by his good deeds performed with humility and wisdom. But if in your heart you are jealous, bitter, and selfish, don't sin against the truth by boasting of your wisdom. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven; it belongs to the world, it is unspiritual, it is demonic. Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy. And goodness is the harvest that is produced from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace. [James 3:13-18]

I would say St. James is cutting with the proverbial 'two-edged sword'. The scripture quote above is both a stern admonition and a heavenly lullaby. There's enough meat in this passage to carry us to the end of our discussion of the 'seven gifts'.

Seeing the admonition portion of this passage makes me realize some things I should have said at the very beginning. To behave as a guide through this Novena and to make some unstrained or murky spiritual comments is cause for a little 'fear and trembling'. My only recourse is that I did pray every day for guidance and asked to be protected from saying anything too far fetched. My overall purpose was to help anyone who was looking for some spiritual companionship, to move close enough to these 'gifts of the Spirit', so that they could feel their spiritual attraction and draw nearer.

Then there's the issue of my being a follower of St. Francis: he was concerned of limiting the spiritual life to a speculative discussion of spiritual matters. I believe it was he who said, "I would rather feel compunction, than study its definition." Likewise I would rather experience 'pure wisdom from above' quietly, even in ignorance, than 'sin against the truth by boasting of wisdom.' (St. Francis - pray for us.)

To live under the influence of heavenly wisdom has the effect of placing us 'in the light of the Lord'. For the Christian the 'gift of wisdom from above' causes us to base our lives on eternal values. Our motives and goals are all enclosed within a heavenly design: the rewards of this life soon become rusty and eaten by moths; empty of their allurement. The gift of wisdom from above makes us ever connected to eternal assistance and indifferent to earthly esteem and power sources.

Wisdom is not a spiritual PhD. It is not an award for theological rigor or memorized scripture passages. Rather it is the unseen vision of what it is that pleases God. Wisdom is a gift of 'spiritual bifocals' given as heavenly assistance to keep us clearly focused on both our earthy pilgrimage and our eternal home.

Using our gifts of knowledge, understanding and council (as discernment) we should be able to distinguish between this worldly and heavenly wisdom. If we could somehow remember to review the passage above, on a periodic basis, that should go a long way toward keeping us correctly aligned.

Some Christians tend to misread the Letter of James; claiming that the author is somehow disparaging faith and overemphasizing the value of works. Not so at all. I love this letter as it is the 'wisdom' letter of the New Testament. Its verses are full of practical guidance regarding living an authentic Christian life. 'If anyone wants wisdom he should pray for it', says the Letter of James [Jas 1:5]… (and read the Letter of James often and slowly, says Tausign.)

Tomorrow: Day Nine - the wrap up and a personal testimony.

Reflection questions: Can you name instances where your worldview changed based on adopting eternal values? What values do you most cherish and why?

Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of your faithful people. Enkindle in us the fire of your divine love.

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