Where Is The “Smart Money”?
Friday: Twenty-First Week of the Year: August 26, 2016
Year II: 1Corinthians 1:17-25; Psalm 33:1-11; Matthew 25:1-13
The Responsorial (Psalm 33) teaches us to see things as they are, not as they might appear to the blinded “wise” of this world: “The earth is [always] full of the goodness of the Lord.”
In 1Corinthians 1:17-25 Paul faces up to the most difficult truth Jesus asks us to accept: that he came to save the world by being crucified. And the standard equipment required of those who want to follow him is a cross to shoulder (Matthew 16:21-26).
We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called… Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
There it is: wisdom or foolishness, power or weakness, depending on whether we judge by God’s reckoning or by obvious human standards. We have to choose.
Let us be clear, however. When Paul says, “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14), he is not talking about suffering. He is talking about a stance toward God and the world. A stance of total self-donation to God and total freedom from attachment to anything on this earth. At Baptism we “presented our bodies as a living sacrifice to God” (Romans 12:1). “All of us… baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.” We were “buried with Christ” and also “raised with him” (Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12). Now all of us say with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). That is what it means to be “crucified” to the world. We live as sacrificed, sacrificing ourselves and everything we have control over to the work of bringing Christ to birth, and nurturing his life in ourselves and others until he grows to “full stature” in every member of the human race (Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:13). For those who desire nothing but this, no matter what they may happen to suffer, “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Their cross is love.
In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus is talking about living in the present with an eye and a half, at least, on the future.
This is Thomas Aquinas’ definition of “wisdom”: to “see everything in this world in the light of our final end.” That makes sense. To Google for directions, we have to type in our final destination. If we don’t we will never arrive. But a lot of very smart people are not wise at all. Like the “foolish” bridesmaids in Jesus’ story, they get so caught up in the here and now that they actually forget they are going anywhere at all.
If we follow the lead of the “smart money” in this world, we will invest in what pays off here and now. We will also invest a bit in the afterlife, of course; at least enough to be accepted as a stockholder when we arrive for that great Shareholders’ Meeting in the Sky. But that won’t be our prime investment. In “real life” (what a misnomer!) people who are respected put most of their time and resources into what will make them successful on this earth by the going standards of their culture.
The “smart money” isn’t very smart. It is a set-up for ultimate failure. Those considered wise in this world are “fools.” But theirs is a common stance on earth.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Offer your body in ministry “for the life of the world.”