Today we begin a little excursion into the Wisdom Literature of the Scriptures. The first readings this week will be from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, two of the strongest pieces of Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament.
Wisdom literature in general was intended to praise God and heroic virtue. For the Jews, the source of this wisdom was from God himself. Wisdom literature in general used several distinctive forms, such as the proverb, the riddle and fables. But in Hebrew, it is mostly the proverb that is common. The proverb could distill the wisdom of the ages into a practical, memorable, pithy line or two that had a bit of sermon in it as well. The proverbs had to be memorable because it was by memory that most of them were handed down across the generations and perpetuated in the society.
Today’s bit of wisdom is one that finds its praise in justice. That justice consisted of concern for the needy among us. “Say not to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give,’ when you can give at once,” we are told. We are exhorted to keep peaceful lives, finding our path not in lawlessness but in uprightness and truth.
The Gospel reading gives us some of Jesus’ own wisdom. That truth will eventually win out and all that is hidden will be revealed. Nothing will be hidden but instead will be revealed in the light of God’s kingdom as a lamp on a lampstand.
So today finds us to be wisdom-seekers. As we begin our study of the Wisdom Literature this week, we may indeed find that God is pointing out a path to us, one that perhaps we had not seen before. May we all be open to follow that path to justice, knowing, as the Psalmist tells us, “The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.”