The first reading for today is from the Book of Wisdom (2:23-3:9), which provides a profound reflection on the contrast of world views between the foolish and the wise.
The foolish people are described as those who reject wisdom and live in a manner that is contrary to God’s ways. They mock and persecute the righteous of faith, seeing them as fools for basing their lives on the moral teachings of Scripture and the promise of eternal life. These are people who believe that life ends in death and that there is no purpose beyond the present moment. As a consequence, there is a focus on worldly pleasures and material gain. There is no need, purpose, or possibility of biblical Hope. Their focus is on the present and this life.
The faithful have a different world view. The first reading describes them as those who seek wisdom in the Scriptures and live in accordance with God’s will. They are often persecuted, mocked and subjected to suffering by the foolish who think their choices and beliefs are the product of a simple mind. However, the faithful remain unwavering, and trusting in God’s promise of eternal life. This perspective is marked by Hope, Faith, and with an eye on the now as well as on the eternal.
Both Matthew (12:43-45) and Luke (11:24-26) have a parable from Jesus in which the owner of the house, finding it filled with evil spirits, rids the house of such evil/foolishness and then leaves the house empty. The once-cast out unclean spirit sees the house empty and “brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first.”
Henry David Thoreau said that “Nature abhors a vacuum.” I suspect most of us have heard that bit of wisdom. But that is not the end of Thoreau’s thought. The full quote is “Nature abhors a vacuum, and if I can only walk this life with sufficient carelessness, I am sure to be filled.”
We are reminded that only a fool would walk through life carelessly. It is the righteous who mindfully fill themselves up with the Wisdom found in the Word of God, the Sacraments, and the teachings of the Church. “Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.” (Wis 3:9)
This is our promise and eternal Hope.
Image Credit: Parable of the Unjust Steward(A.N. Mironov), CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons