Wisdom and Understanding

From our first reading today: “Who among you is wise and understanding?” (James 3:13a) That is not the kind of question for which people are going to raise their hands and cry out “Me!!.” But it is the kind of question that we hope is true of ourselves, our loved ones, and those with whom we work and play.

For a little over a week, the first reading has been taken from the Letter of James. If you followed along, including the great passage from Saturday’s readings (James 3:1-10), the reading for today makes more sense as it gives it context.

Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire…

For every kind of beast and bird, reptile and sea creature,can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species,but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 

With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.” (James 3:5-10)

The point that James is making is that after all the discussion about “faith and works”, as he says plainly today: “Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13) The point James is making is that there is evidence in the possession of wisdom seen in the words, work, and manner in which one goes through life.

You can tell a lot about the possession of Wisdom, or as St. Paul would put it, the fruits of the Spirit: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23)

Who among you is wise and understanding?” You can tell a lot by their manner of speaking. We can discover a lot about ourselves by the way we speak. Do we possess the wisdom to not speak what we are thinking (in some cases)? Or better yet, are we possessed of the wisdom of the Spirit to have thoughts that give evidence of the fruits of that same Spirit?

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