Prepare for Sunday Mass: Words of wisdom about wisdom

Each week in OSV Newsweekly, Carl Olson provides a thoughtful, relevant reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday in his "Opening the Word" column. The following is just an excerpt, but you can read the entire column here.

From Carl Olson:

My father used to occasionally say, “being smart is not the same as being wise.” Another variation was, “having a lot of information is not the same as having wisdom.” As I’ve learned — sometimes slowly — those are words of wisdom about wisdom. We live in a time of unprecedented access to knowledge and facts — the so-called “information age.” But, in the words of an old cartoon, “if this is the Information Age, how come nobody knows anything?”

There are more than 400 references to wisdom in the Old Testament, with about 75 percent of those appearing in the five works of “wisdom literature”: Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Sirach and Wisdom. “Wisdom” is used to describe a variety of things, including the skill of a craftsman, kingly judgment, cleverness, advice from elders and rules of moral conduct. However, the content of wisdom literature can be summarized in a single word: “life.” In the Old Testament, the goal of wisdom is a life marked by old age, prosperity and good reputation.

A key ingredient is right relationship with God: “The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prv 9:10). That is evident in today’s reading from Sirach, which carries an admonition to keep the commandments and to trust in God, for doing so will bring salvation and life. The wisdom of God is “immense,” being all-powerful and all-knowing. Wisdom is deeply relational and involves both knowing things and, more importantly, knowing others.

Read Olson's entire column to prepare for Sunday Mass.

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.