Pearl of Wisdom

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/08/22 at 12:00 AM

Both our first and second readings today invite us to seek Wisdom. In the first reading from the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom is personified as woman setting out a table of food

The food and drink offered by Lady Wisdom is instruction that leads to true life. We are told to forsake foolishness that we may live; and we are promised that if we eat of her food and drink of her wine, we will advance in the way of understanding.
In the second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians we’re given a fuller sense of wisdom. St. Paul cautions us to live wisely, not foolishly, “because the days are evil.”
For St. Paul living in wisdom is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Wise living for Paul is a matter of living in Christ, Who Is Wisdom Incarnate. In this passage Paul equates wisdom with doing the will of the Lord.

While our Lord has a particular, individual will for each of us, His universal will for all
people is eternal salvation! Above all else our blessed Lord desires that we all go to Heaven!

But as we consider this fact, let us be mindful that the only people who get go to Heaven are
saints! Of course in saying this, I’m speaking of saints in a generic sense.

A saint, generically speaking, is anyone who is truly holy. Of course amongst all the saints
in Heaven there is a special class of Saints: those who have been canonized by the Church

and who serve as particular role models for the rest of us.

But the bottom line is this: if we want to go to Heaven, we must be saintly; we must be holy.
And if we’re not holy, then at least we must be in a state of grace when we die and allow our

Lord to make us holy through the fires of Purgatory. That’s the deal, pure and simple.

And so if we wish to be wise and not foolish, then we should order our lives toward the
pursuit of holiness. There must be a certain primacy of holiness in our lives. Keeping our

minds and hearts set on Heaven, holiness in this life must be our “pearl of great price.”

As I’ve mentioned to you before, holiness is not something we achieve on our own. It’s the work of the Spirit within us, which is why we often refer to the Holy Spirit as the Sanctifier.
It is the Holy Spirit who makes us holy, but we have to cooperate with Him!

When it comes to helping His children grow in holiness, our dear Lord is very generous. The
proof of His generosity is the fact that He has given us two particular gifts to help us become

holy: the Sacraments and His Mother.

For those of you who just completed the 33 day consecration to Jesus through Mary, one of
the first things we learned is that consecrating oneself to Jesus through Mary is the “quickest,

easiest, surest, and most perfect way” to grow in holiness and become a saint.

Those are the words of St. Louis de Montfort, one of the greatest proponents of Marian
consecration our Church has ever known.

St. Louis teaches us that when we entrust ourselves to Mary through a consecration like this,
we are actually imitating what our Lord did in the Incarnation. By becoming incarnate

within the womb of Mary, our Lord entrusted Himself totally to Mary’s care.

As the spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mary facilitates the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit
within us when we give ourselves to her. In particular, Mary helps us to carry our crosses in life, and this is important because carrying our crosses is one of the primary ways we grow in holiness.

St. Louis de Montfort tells us that Mary “prepares her servants’ crosses with so much maternal sweetness and pure love as to make them gladly acceptable, no matter how bitter they may be in themselves.”
This is the whole reason why I invited this entire parish to make this consecration: I want you to be holy! And I must tell you, as your pastor I was so very edified to see how many of you actually did the consecration! Truly, I was so very pleased.
And for those of you who didn’t make the consecration this year, have no fear. This is something that we will make an annual event for our parish.
As I mentioned earlier, the Lord also gives us the Sacraments as a means for growing in holiness, in particular the Eucharist. In this week’s Gospel we reach the culmination of Jesus’ teaching in the Bread of Life Discourse that we’ve been reading for the past 4 weeks.
Christ speaks clearly and forcefully, enunciating exactly what we believe about the Eucharist. Jesus tells us: “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” But the key line is this: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
There are many spiritual benefits to receiving Holy Communion. But the most import effect of receiving Holy Communion is intimate union with Christ Jesus. In fact the very word Communion suggests becoming one with Christ.
While all of the sacraments unite us to Jesus through the reception of His grace, this union is most intensely achieved through the Eucharist, for in Holy Communion we receive not only grace, but the very Author of grace Himself.
And in this process, we become more like Christ. In receiving this most precious sacrament, we actually share in Christ’s divine life and become truly wise. If we receive Holy Communion worthily, it makes us holy and will help us get to Heaven.
But personal sanctification and getting to Heaven should not be our sole motivation for growing in holiness. We must also seek holiness for the sake of others.
As we consider the state of our country and the state of world, it should be clear to all of us that the world needs holy people now more than ever!
As you all know, in just one week the Republicans will have their national convention in Tampa, followed by the Democratic Convention here in Charlotte a week after that, kicking off the home stretch of this election cycle.
As the debates between candidates rage, it is a very natural time for us as Americans to focus on what’s wrong with our country – on what our national evils are.
I submit to you that our sluggish economy and high unemployment, the housing bust, the culture of death that so pervades us, and so on are all the result of a lack of holiness.
They are the result of evil actions on the part of many people. Greed, lust, anger, pride, and sloth have become our national values, and they’ve had free reign in our country for far too long! These vices are our worst enemies!
Let’s be clear: No policy or politician will ever be our savior. If we want positive change in our country, then we must be holy and inspire others to be holy. We must seek to follow God’s will and elect government officials who will do the same.
Brothers and sisters, we must not forget the Old Testament stories of the Israelites: when they followed God’s laws, He blessed them. When Israel rebelled against God and His laws, they encountered destruction. The same will be true for us.
By forsaking the foolishness and evil of this world, and entrusting ourselves to the Blessed Mother and the grace of the Sacraments, let us be confident that our Lord will complete His work of making each of us holy: for our own sakes and the sake of our nation.
O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom and patroness of our country, pray for us.


19 August 2006

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
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