350 years before the Americans dropped an atom bomb on Nagasaki, Saint Paul Miki and 26 companions were crucified there for being Catholics. Let us pray that as a result of their example and their witness we may come to appreciate the faith for which they readily laid down their lives.
A great many alcoholics and drug addicts are helped moment by moment, one day at a time, by praying the well-known prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer highlights that most important virtue: wisdom.
Solomon prays for wisdom over any other gift, and he seems to know ahead of time that it’s the one gift that will see him through all others. In the gospel Our Lord tries to quell the enthusiasm of the excited disciples by inviting them to some prayer and perspective on the things they have accomplished.
Wisdom offers us perspective and insight. And it needs to come before money, power, prestige or even friendship in our list of priorities. We need wisdom to discern situations and to judge things correctly. What good is it to have anything if we don’t know what to do with it, and if we don’t know what difference it will make in our lives?
Those who seek wisdom seek out what is true and good and holy before anything else. People who seek wisdom may not always be the talented and the beautiful, they may rank among the disenfranchised and the unattractive, and yet they are often more experienced and wise about the workings of the human spirit.
As many alcoholics seem to know so well, a life that values wisdom can see things as they are and act accordingly, which is not always what I feel like seeing or how I feel like acting at any particular moment. Aladdin’s lamp had three wishes, but the readings for today’s Mass indicate that we need only one to see us through. Lord, grant us wisdom.