By Fr. Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S.
A wise woman who was walking in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met a traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth a mint, enough to give him security for the rest of his life. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back to you in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Please, give me whatever you have within you that enabled you to give me something so valuable. Give me whatever it was that enabled you to give me the stone.” (Author Unknown)
The Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom is the ability to see as God sees; to look upon life through the eyes of God rather than our earthly eyes. All too often we believe that we can buy our happiness. And after we have the thing we so desired, we become bored and look for something new to bring us happiness. Living in a culture where so much is available to us, sooner or later there comes a day when we must ask ourselves, “When is enough, enough?”
One way to measure our attachment to material things is to ask, “What area of my life would be the most difficult to let go of? Would it be my job, my family, my independence, my hobby, my iPhone, the internet, sports, travel? What does my credit or debit card statement say about my priorities? What story would the archives on my internet search engine tell about my life?” It’s a helpful meditation to ponder these questions because these earthly items may very well be barriers keeping you from developing a stronger relationship with God.
Our faith teaches us that there is nothing comparable to wisdom, a gift preferred above all other gifts. With wisdom, the truths of God begin to make sense to us, and we begin to instinctively love what God loves, to will what God wills, to see as God sees. Wisdom helps us to love the world properly, as a gift from God, rather than something to possess.
The story of the rich young man from today’s Gospel stirs a question that many of us have pondered: “What does it take to make it to heaven?” The young man is dutiful, he follows the commandments, straight as an arrow. He desires life, but has a passion for wealth that holds him back. He has not yet opened himself to wisdom.
Whenever I hear this Gospel story, I wonder what happened to the young man. Did he give up on his search for everlasting life? Did he go off for a while, only to be drawn back to Jesus at a later time as he embraced the gift of wisdom? Did he go on to use his wealth and power to help others like King Solomon of old?
St. Mark tells us that “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” I imagine that some people looked at the rich young man with envy and jealousy, others with admiration, and still others with disappointment. Jesus looked at him with love, not judgment. Jesus could see beyond his wealth and scholarly knowledge and saw the heart of a restless young man who rightly sensed that something was out of balance in his life. I like to think that the look of love Jesus gave to him became a lasting memory for the young man that mingled with the Spirit’s gift of wisdom and eventually he returned to walk with Jesus.
Today Jesus looks lovingly at us. Is there anything in your life that is acting as a roadblock to your ability to say “yes” to the Lord? Ask God to fill you with the wisdom you need to see as God’s sees and to have the fortitude to follow God’s will wherever it leads you.
Fr. Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S., is the pastor of the Downtown Dayton parishes, which include Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph. He also serves as the vice moderator general of the worldwide Congregation.