Today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach (or Ecclesasticus) is a fine summary of Biblical Wisdom. The author of Sirach was a scribe and teacher of Jewish law in the second century B.C. He probably lived in Jerusalem and instructed young people in religion and moral law. In the tradition stretching back to the ancient sayings in Proverbs, it was the last of the great Hebrew wisdom literature to be written.
It is helpful to see Biblical Wisdom with a backdrop of the epic creation stories. It’s as if we shared for a moment the mind and consciousness of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve before the fall. As they walked with God in the evening they looked out at the beauty and order of God’s wonderful creation and saw what God saw-all things at peaceful rest under God’s careful hand.
Biblical Wisdom is not just common sense, or some kind of "street smarts" that might help us succeed in life, though there is a bit of that, for sure. It’s really a much more profound vision that always has to do with the place of God as the life source of all things. This God is the beginning and end of all that is, and as such, this God is the secret inside that only real "wisdom" can understand.
And so, in today’s Gospel when the "children," in all of their innocence, were not allowed to approach Jesus, it was to Jesus an offence against the Wisdom of the ages. It takes a childlike quality to get beneath or step aside from the "wisdom of the world." So Jesus became indignant and said, "Let the children come to me, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these."
In all of us there is a place of simplicity and childlike innocence where Biblical Wisdom resides. If we take the time and opportunity to go there for a moment today we too may experience the gentle touch of the Lord Jesus who "then embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them."
Fr. Jim Strommer, C.P., is the local superior of the Passionist community in Citrus Heights, California.