Before we delve into this Sunday’s scriptures it may well be helpful if we recall two other Old Testament references. Firstly, in the

Book of Tobit (4: 19 – 20) we read “Ask advice of every wise person. Bless the Lord God in everything; beg him to guide your ways and bring your paths and purposes to their end.” Then the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus 24: 7) comments that “{wisdom} sought a resting place: … I sought in whose territory I might lodge.”

Our

NEW TESTAMENT READING [1 CORINTHIANS 3: 16 – 23] continues to present a very different approach to the wisdom of this age (which we have been reflecting on in the last couple of weeks). Saint Paul, as is his wont, goes for the jugular when he bluntly says that our God “catches the wise in their craftiness.”As I have often, over the years of these reflections, pointed out – there is a world of difference between a clever person and a wise one. Now we are able to discern another difference – which is the important distinction between being crafty and being astute.

I see a ‘crafty’ person as one who is able to ‘marry’ the wood and the trees to his or her own advantage – and to such an extent that the less discriminating are easily duped into accepting what is nothing more than expediency. The astute person sees, depending on the particular path of suggested action, wood as wood and trees as trees. True wisdom does not

guide the ways and purposes of the crafty. There it does not find a resting place, and neither does it wish to lodge in that sort of territory.

Wwe are able to hear in a direct way the challenge of Saint Paul: “let no one deceive himself … who thinks that he is wise in this age … the Lord catches the wise in their craftiness … knows the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

The secret of our Christian / Gospel approach needs to be rooted in some words from

TODAY’S PSALM [103 or 102] which outlines the basic of a daily approach to life, living and tactics. As we struggle not to be crafty in all our human dealings, we need to remember that our Christian God is not hard, unyielding and unsympathetic to the difficulties and challenges we face. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger … does not treat us according to our sins.” However, we have to “fear him(have a reverence for his name and ways) as well as involve him in our decisions and endeavours. DO WE DO THIS? DOES THIS UNDERPIN OUR EFFORTS not to adopt the wisdom of this age? Do we both believe and accept as a reality that he “redeems your life from the grave?” In other words, if we take the Gospel approach (as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount), do we hold firmly to the truth that he is ‘at hand’ to guard and guide us from ‘falling into the pit’ of adopting what appears to be the more ‘profitable’ (crafty) way of the wisdom of this age?

Much of what we have so far reflected on is summarised in words from

OUR OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE [LEVITICUS 19: 1 – 2. 17 – 18]. Therein we read that “you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge.”Is this not the way of the crafty? Leviticus speaks to us and clearly indicates that the source of such an approach is “in your heart.”

How much ‘heart’ is in the approach of the crafty? I will always remember the advice heard from a solid Christian businessman. He said,

“Father, make your choices with your head – then execute them with your heart.”

TODAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 5: 34 – 38]

confirms and underpins what we have seen in this week’s scriptures. This extract concludes the six ‘your have been told … but I say to you’ comments made by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. If we read all the verses carefully, it will be noticed how simple it is for the truly wise to differentiate between the wisdom of this age and the wisdom of the new law of the Gospel. How difficult is it to grasp the fundamental opposition between what had been taught and what Jesus was teaching? In addition it takes little effort to understand why at the end of this particular discourse we read that “the people were astounded at his teaching; unlike their own teachers he taught with a note of authority.”It was all so very different from what they had always been taught.

WE MUST BE DIFFERENT

– and we need to see the urgent need to apply this different set of values to how we, who must never be ‘crafty’, approach the choices and decisions we have to make and take.

There may well be a need to know what we are fleeing from

but the greater need is to know what we are in search of.

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