The Gift of Wisdom

Yesterday was graduation at the College of St. Benedict’s, located on the same grounds as St. Benedict’s Monatery, where I am staying. So the Mass I attended was one of two graduation masses and included a reflection by one of the graduating students.

I was struck by the student’s reflection on the first lines of the first reading, which came from the book of Wisdom: “Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.”

The “spirit of Wisdom came to me.” That is, she said, wisdom is not something we take or get for ourselves. Rather it is a gift that we are given by God. Our task is not to try to become wise on our own, but rather to open ourselves to receive the gift from God through our prayer and attitude of receptivity.

There is a simplicity to what she said, but I think we sometimes need to be reminded of simple truths. All of us who have received the sacrament of Confirmation know that wisdom is a gift. It is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and we all had to memorize those.

But we tend to forget what it means to say something is a gift from the Holy Spirit. And I think both parts of the student’s reminder are important. On the one hand, wisdom is not something we can acquire on our own. On the other hand, to receive the gift we have to do some real work; we don’t get to just sit back and wait. We have to ready ourselves through our pray, through our desire, to be receptive to God’s gift of wisdom.

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