St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin

Reading Wisdom 1:1-7
Gospel Luke 17:1-6

"Love justice, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart…."

At weekday Mass during this second-to-last week in Ordinary Time, the Church’s First Reading is taken from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom. Not surprisingly, the Book of Wisdom is part of the Old Testament group of books called the “Wisdom Literature” (the other three groups of Old Testament books being the Pentateuch, the Historical Literature, and the Prophetical Literature). There are seven books that make up the “Wisdom Literature”.

This book is fitting for us to listen to as we draw near to the end of the Church year. Towards the end of the Church year, the Sacred Liturgy draws our attention to the Last Things: Heaven, hell, death and judgment. You and I need wisdom to think rightly about these four last things.

Today’s First Reading consists of the first seven verses of Wisdom. It might surprise some just how “earth-bound” this passage is. It is not “pie in the sky”, meditating abstractly on ideas and theories about God’s wisdom. The passage is very concrete.

The first two words of the book are “Love justice”. A good retreat master could develop an entire week-long retreat exploring just these two words, so profound are they. Love and justice are both virtues: the former the greatest of the theological virtues, and the latter one of the moral (or “cardinal”) virtues. To love justice is to devote one’s self to a right ordering of one’s thoughts, words and actions: giving to God what is His due, and recognizing God in our neighbors, whom He created for us to love. In attending to the simple matters of daily life with divine love, we cannot fail to grow in wisdom.