Father Richard encourages us to find the wisdom revealed in the paradoxical nature of reality.
On the last day of the year, I generally withdraw to pray. A few years ago, I asked myself: What should I pray for this year? What do we need in these turbulent times? Naturally I was strongly tempted to pray for more love. But it occurred to me that I’ve met so many people in the world who are already full of love and who really care for others. Maybe what we lack isn’t love but wisdom. It became clear to me that I should pray above all else for wisdom.
We all want to love, but as a rule we don’t know how to love rightly. How should we love so that life will really come from it? I believe that what we all need is wisdom. I’m very disappointed that we in the Church have passed on so little wisdom. Often the only thing we’ve taught people is to think that they’re right—or that they’re wrong. We’ve either mandated things or forbidden them. But we haven’t helped people to enter upon the narrow and dangerous path of true wisdom. On wisdom’s path we take the risk of making mistakes. On this path we take the risk of being wrong. That’s how wisdom is gained.
It looks as if we will always live in a world that is a mixture of good and evil. Jesus called it a field in which wheat and weeds grow alongside each other. We say, “Lord, shouldn’t we go and rip out the weeds?” But Jesus says: “No, if you try to do that, you’ll probably rip the wheat out along with the weeds. Let both grow alongside each other in the field till harvest” (see Matthew 13:24–30). We need a lot of patience and humility to live with a field of both weeds and wheat in our own souls.
Jesus came to teach us the way of wisdom. He brought us a message that offers to liberate us from both the lies of the world and the lies lodged in ourselves. The words of the Gospel create an alternative consciousness, solid ground on which we can really stand, free from every social order and from every ideology. Jesus called this new foundation the Reign of God, and he said it is something that takes place in this world and yet will never be completed in this world. This is where faith comes in. It is so rare to find ourselves trusting not in the systems and -isms of this world, but standing at a place where we offer our bit of salt, leaven, and light. It seems so harmless, and, even then, we have no security that we’re really right. This means that we have to stand in an inconspicuous, mysterious place, a place where we’re not sure that we’re sure, where we are comfortable knowing that we do not know very much at all.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go (Crossroad Publishing: 1991, 2003), 68, 70, 75.
Story from Our Community:
I loved this idea of unveiling. It reminded me of Christmas morning, with many gifts under the tree. Some were surprises, some didn’t fit, and some, like the hats I knit for my granddaughter, just weren’t very exciting. But they were all given with love. I like to think the gifts God gives us are like these, not always perfect in our eyes, but given with love and unveiled with hope. —Ann S.
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