The Wisdom of La Salette
(23rd Ordinary Sunday: Wisdom 9:13-18; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33)
When was the last time you thought about God in these terms: omnipresent, omnipotent, all knowing, all seeing? In that context we easily understand the question raised in Solomon’s prayer in today’s first reading, “Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?”
The answer is simple. On our own, we can’t. This is why Solomon adds, “except you had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high.”
Of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the first is wisdom, which bears a special relation to faith. Fr. John Hardon, S.J. (1914-2000) explained this as follows: “Where faith is a simple knowledge of the articles of Christian belief, wisdom goes on to a certain divine penetration of the truths themselves.”
The deeper we enter into our faith, the more our faith will guide us. In particular, Jesus speaks to us in today’s gospel about carrying our cross. You will recall that St. Paul wrote, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).
Jesus took on our flesh and followed the way to Calvary, in order to teach us not to be dominated by the flesh. Without the mercy and grace of God and the working of the Holy Spirit we would find the cross to be too heavy a burden to bear.
The apparition and message of La Salette are situated in this same tradition. Mary bears the crucifix on her breast. She weeps over those who are perishing due to their lack of faith. She helps us to judge the things of the world (the signs of the times) in the light of our highest end, our salvation, to which we draw closer when we respect the things of God.
She knows, as stated in the first reading, that “the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.” She is not unsympathetic to her people’s suffering and anxiety, but she wants us to look beyond. She is a wise Mother.
We are all called to contemplate God. In Mary’s company, the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom will guide us ever closer to fulfilling that noble ambition.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. Wayne Vanasse