Christ in the World

Pentecost 16

First reading: Prov. 1:20-33; Ps. 19 or Wis. 7:26-8:1 Alternate: Isa. 50:4-9a; Ps. 116:1-8 • James 3:1-12 • Mark 8:27-38

Ask any teacher. Students who hate knowledge and spurn correction travel toward their own destruction. There are, of course, exceptions, those who would not or cannot learn in classrooms, but otherwise hear the voice of wisdom sub divo — in the street, the crowded byways, the halls of urban business, the radiance of sun and disposition of constellations, the renewal of all things (Prov. 1:20-33; Wis. 7:29). Whether Wisdom is sought in school or discerned in the counsels of civic deliberation or espied in the mysteries of nature, she shows herself a flawless mirror of God’s activity. The heavens declare the glory of God. Wisdom enlightens holy souls. Ignoring her is destruction and ruin.

Let teachers be warned. “Those who teach will receive the greater judgment” (James 3:1). For every teacher must employ the tongue, “a restless evil full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). At every moment the tongue must be governed and directed to a single task, the exposition of Wisdom. The teacher will work and pray and speak, helping students to see “that no certain end could ever be attained, unless the actions whereby it is attained were regular; that is to say, made suitable, fit and correspondent unto their end, by some canon, rule or law. Which thing doth first take place in the works even of God himself” (Richard Hooker). The teacher will often say, “Look!” The student will often wonder. Together they will discern “an image of divine goodness.” Together they will see that Wisdom accomplishes everything by some canon, rule or law. Together they will see that order and beauty have kissed each other.

The wisdom and power of God has appeared in our midst bearing the solemn name Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the same wisdom at the heart of things. “He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the king of a new world, the ancient and supreme reason for all human history and our personal lot, a bridge between heaven and earth” (Pope Paul VI, Nov. 29, 1970). Thus, the one who appears as a human person is ever the divine person through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made. I lift up my eyes to the hills and I see Jesus. In the valley of the shadow of death thou art with me. The morning sun summons a thousand Alleluias. “Every ant that I see asks me, where had I this providence and industry? Every flower that I see asks me, where had I this beauty, this fragrancy, this medicinal virtue? Every creature calls me to consider what great things God has done in little subjects” (John Donne, 1630).

All this is contracted and revealed in Jesus. No one has ever seen God. He who is in the bosom of the Father has made him known (exegesis)! At one moment — at this very moment — the Word turns toward you and says, “Who do you say that I am?” Be assured he issues not only the question, but supplies the answer as well. When “Tu es Christus” rolls off your tongue, God will have done a wonder with your most unruly member. “Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect” (James 3:2). Be perfect, therefore, saying these words. Or, rather, let God say them in you: “Tu es Christus!” Having said them, observe how the Church grows. “For upon this which you have said: Tu es Christus Filius Dei vivi, I will build my church” (St. Augustine, Sermo 295).

Look It Up
Read John 1:1-18. Pantocrator.

Think About It
Whether dividing the world through investigation or seeing it whole through contemplation, we behold the One who is, was, and ever shall be.


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