In yesterday’s post, Wittgenstein reminded us that Christianity is not wisdom of the cold, intellectual sort – a tidy system of clever ideas. As Paul writes in I Corinthians 1 (rendered by Clarence Jordan in his Cotton Patch Version):
I will tear to bits the dissertations of the PhDs; I will pull the rug from under those who have all the answers. Then what becomes of the bright boy? What does this do to the egghead? Where does the worldly-wise professor wind up? Hasn’t God made human reasoning appear utterly ridiculous?
(As a side note, if you ever come across the work of Mennonite pastor and musician Chuck Neufeld, he has a beautiful musical rendering of the more traditional version of this passage, titled “Many of You.”) Despite all the foregoing, this Sunday in the LCC lectionary is dedicated to the Holy Spirit as Wisdom. The readings quickly tell us that we are dealing with another sort of wisdom altogether:
For she is the breath of the power of God, and a clear effluence from the glory of the Almighty…. she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God and the image of his goodness. (from Wisdom 7)
The gospel is the story of the wise and foolish virgins. The wise virgins have brought oil for their lamps. They possess a wisdom filled with light and warmth, and they are welcomed in to the marriage. The foolish virgins brought no oil, and were shut out. This passage calls to mind that difficult verse in Luke 19 where Jesus says that to those who have, more will be given, and from those who have not, even what they have will be taken away. Or more positively, Mario Schoenmaker’s oft-repeated assertion that his work was to make the able more able.
When we come to the wedding feast of Christ, we must not arrive empty-handed. We cannot look to a paid clergyperson or a theology professor and ask them to take care of things for us. We must find our own wisdom, or better – our participation in that life-giving Wisdom who “maketh all things new; and in all ages entering into holy souls, she maketh them friends of God and prophets.” No one can do this for us, and we cannot do it for others.
As the Spirit of Wisdom is the source of our being in every moment, none of us is without her oil, her warmth, her light, if we only look. Finding her true wisdom coursing in our veins, running through our life, we can gather it up in such a way that it will illumine our path to the wedding feast. We will then enter in, loving life and filled with joy.