Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A

seek-wisdomWisdom from Above

The modern day use of the term “conventional wisdom” is credited to the economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who used it in his book The Affluent Society. Referring to “conventional wisdom” he wrote:

“It will be convenient to have a name for the ideas which are esteemed at any time for their acceptability, and it should be a term that emphasizes this predictability.”

Conventional wisdom, then, is acceptable by  the populous. This is not a new concept, however. Jesus faced such so-called wisdom in his day. In his Sermon on the Mount, he speaks about conventional wisdom:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”   (Matthew 5:38-48)

The culture determines conventional wisdom. The Children had been living in Egypt for 400 years. Unfortunately, certain Egyptian practices had become all too familiar to them.  God instructed Moses to challenge the Children of Israel:

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.   (Leviticus 19:2)

Regrettably, the culture has crept into the Church. Have we compromised the Gospel of Jesus Christ because we have wanted to be more acceptable to the world?

The problem with conventional wisdom is that it is not really wise at all.

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

“He catches the wise in their craftiness,”

and again,

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are futile.”   (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

Are we seeking wisdom from all the wrong places? Our lives will reveal from where our wisdom has come. In the Bool of James we read:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.   (James 3:13-18)

We need a harvest of righteousness today. Righteousness is possible! If it were not so then Jesus would not have spoken this injunction:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”   (Matthew 5:48)

Yes, we are the righteousness of God by faith. But faith without works is dead. We need to move away from earthly wisdom and towards Godly wisdom. James writes:

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

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Filed under Easter Vigil, Epiphany, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year A

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