Aug 31, 2014

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Prophet Jeremiah was sent by God with a message that no one wanted to hear and which Jeremiah did not want to say. When the Lord first chose Jeremiah, he was reluctant. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Be not afraid … for I am with you to deliver you.” Jeremiah stood in the court of the Lord’s house and prophesied destruction for Jerusalem. A priest, upon hearing it, beat Jeremiah and imprisoned him. The next morning, the priest released him and Jeremiah prophesied again. This time his prophecy of destruction was against the priest. This is why Jeremiah complains that he can’t keep in the words that the Lord has sent him to say. He cannot contain his prophetic mission. Yet, he struggles with his emotions of fear and discouragement. At the same time, Jeremiah is open to the Lord’s movements. There is a mystery involved in choosing what the Lord has chosen without being deprived of interior freedom. So although Jeremiah complains to the Lord, he nevertheless accomplishes his mission and even praises the Lord while he is complaining to him!

Jesus, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, has just been revealed by Peter’s confession to be the Messiah. Then Jesus immediately declares to his disciples the essential elements of his mission: to suffer, be killed and rise on the third day. The extent of their shock is evident in Peter’s response: “God forbid, Lord!” Jesus is quick to correct Peter’s attitude, precisely because the Son understands what the Father’s will is and why it is important. Jesus chooses what his Father has chosen. He is not forced by some external decree or some unbreakable power such that he is not free. He has chosen this in perfect freedom. But he still experiences real human emotion in regard to his death. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks the Father whether the chalice might pass him. St. Luke adds that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground (Lk 22:44).” But Jesus also prays, “nevertheless not my will but yours be done (Lk 22:42).” There is no imperfection in his will. He is just as committed to his mission as we heard in today’s Gospel. Just before he goes to the Garden, he will have already made an irrevocable liturgical offering of his body and blood to be given over for the remission of sins. He is not withdrawing his offer in Gethsemane, but acknowledging his emotions and even beginning his suffering for our sake.

What about us? Jesus tells us that we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, follow after him and even lose our lives. It is an easy thing to follow God’s will when it pleases us, when everything is glorious, attractive and all that we do ends in triumphant success. But Jesus says we must take up our crosses. He will tell Peter after the resurrection, “When you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go (Jn 21:18). Here is the paradox: Jeremiah’s words will later be recognized as the inspired words of a prophet. His words will remind us that God has called us to fulfill his will. And we learn that God’s plan for us is greater than we can possibly imagine, especially when things are difficult. Peter’s death becomes his glory. Jesus’ death saves us from slavery and sin and even conquers death itself. In losing our lives we will save them. Crosses are not merely heavy burdens which can be set down whenever we wish. They are not simply unpleasant but rather irrelevant. Crosses are instruments for the purpose of crucifixion. Death. Unless we are willing to be crucified we will not be glorified. Unless we die to ourselves we will suffer the eternal death.

The very thought of our crucifixion, of dying to ourselves, is fraught with fear and desperation. So, St. Paul “urges” us “by the mercies of God to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice” so that we “may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect (Rom 12:1-2).” It is a really hard thing to do. That is why we prayed that God would place in our hearts the love of his name and nurture in us what is good by deepening our sense of reverence. Having these emotions, whether of uncertainty, fear or discouragement, does not make us unfaithful, but without the grace of God we will be unable to move forward in doing his will. The reality is that we understand all too well how difficult it is to remain faithful to our call to holiness. We know that we are weak and prone to stumble and fall. We stumble often through sin. And our sin makes us stumble all the more. Our sin makes our hearts become selfish. A heart that is self-focused, turned in on itself, will miss the call to holiness that God places in it. We will lose the ability to join the Psalmist in pining and thirsting for God. We become parched, lifeless and arid – but we no longer know it. Like the priest in the Book of Jeremiah, we no longer recognize the truth when we hear it. Even worse, we rationalize and ignore it. We carry on with life, even our religious practice, but we are no longer able to discern God’s will. Our reverence fades and the love of his name dries up in our hearts.

There is a remedy. When Jesus told us to take up our crosses and follow him, he also knew how frail we would be. He knew how often we would stumble and fall to the ground. The question is, are we ready to give up the whole world and hand our life over to him? What good is our spiritual worship if we refuse to let go of our sins? How quickly he will raise us up if only we let him! Jesus is waiting for you. He is waiting for you to choose him above everything else. He is thirsting and pining for you. Will you deny yourself and confess your sins to him?

Should you wish to confess your sins, we have regular confessions here on Saturdays at 3:00pm. I am always available, however, at any other time. You may also inquire at the office for an appointment and you don’t need to tell anyone why you wish to see me. I’m happy as well to meet at any time, even after parish office hours. Now I will leave you with this thought from St. Peter of Joseph Betancur, better known in Guatemala as Santo Hermano Pedro: “Only one soul do you have and if you lose it, what then will you do?”

Aug 17, 2014

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Our Gospel today when it is read often sounds rather harsh. Who is this Jesus in the Gospel who ignores the Canaanite woman and compares her to dogs? It is difficult to reconcile this image with the loving Jesus we see elsewhere in the Gospel. But context and a more careful reading of the passage resolves these issues.

Our Gospel today comes from Matthew 15:21-28. Earlier in the same chapter Jesus has an encounter with the Scribes and Pharisees who came from Jerusalem. They complain to him that his disciples did not follow the tradition of washing their hands before they ate in accordance with the custom of the oral traditions. Jesus replies by showing them that they transgress the Law of God through following a certain interpretation of the oral tradition. He says to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Their hearts were neither in accord with the Law nor open to receiving the Gospel of Jesus.

Afterward, Jesus instructs his disciples about true defilement of the heart. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” The next verse of the Gospel according to St. Matthew begins the section we heard today.

A Canaanite woman cries out to him for mercy, calling him Lord and Son of David. Jesus, who so often reacts with compassion in the Gospel, remains silent and, so it would seem, ignores her. His disciples come to him to beg Jesus to send her away. Perhaps when she received no response from Jesus, she started crying out to them for help. Notice, though, that they don't ask Jesus to help her, they ask him to get rid of her! And Jesus says to them, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Let's read that again with an emphasis on “I.” I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Might that emphasized “I” imply something about the disciples? I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but you will be sent out into the whole world. The disciples had heard Jesus quote Isaiah the prophet in the encounter with the Scribes and Pharisees, after which Jesus gave them a teaching about cleanness of heart. But what about our first reading today which is also from Isaiah: “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants … their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” And so a Medieval Gloss on the text reads: “He did not answer so that the disciples might ask for her.” Jesus is expanding his teaching on the heart and what is at the heart of true religion.

The woman clearly grasped something of the sort happening either in the exchanges or in the tone, because although Jesus has not spoken to her yet, “she came and did Jesus homage, saying Lord, help me.” Now, at last, Jesus speaks to her, “It is not fair to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Isn't our first reaction to think, “How rude!” Now the term “dogs” is in the original text κυνάρια, which is a diminutive of dog. So it can be understood to mean little dog or even puppy. And if we read the text with a gentle tone rather than as a rebuke, it softens it to the point where it can even suggest a tone that, while testing the woman, almost encourages her to continue. And just so the woman continues: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” She does not contradict his use of the word. She continues to address him as Lord. She even says the children are the masters. She humbles herself and continues to beg for mercy from him. “Then Jesus answered her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.' And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.”

Now we are in a better position to appreciate the depths of this Gospel passage. We can begin to see the Jesus of compassion that we know so well. Why did Jesus draw out this experience? Certainly, it was important enough that the Apostles remembered it and the Holy Spirit inspired St. Matthew and St. Mark to include it. Jesus knew the hearts of the Scribes and Pharisees in his previous encounter. He knew the hearts of his disciples, and he knew the heart of the woman. He also knew, beforehand, that he would eventually grant to the woman her request. He teaches the disciples that his mercy is for everyone without exception. He elicits faith from the woman and teaches her to come to him in adoration and and to persevere with trust in his ability to free her daughter from her slavery to evil. Through the woman, he teaches his disciples and us to do the same. A Medieval Gloss concludes: “And if the Lord delays the salvation of a soul at the first tears of the supplicating Church, we ought not to despair, or to cease from our prayers, but rather continue them earnestly.” He may, like he did with the Canaanite woman, first elicit faith from us and teach us to humble ourselves in order to open our hearts to the gift of his mercy. He teaches us in this Gospel that we shall obtain His Heart if we cry out to him with persistence. The difficulty isn't in the generosity of the Divine Giver but in the receptivity of the one asking.

The compassion, mercy and love of the Sacred Heart of our Savior cannot resist the misery and supplications of the sinners who worship him, and throwing themselves on his mercy, beg him for help and release from the sins and evil that hold them captive. The sinner, who in humble adoration of his Sacred Heart, begs to be healed never fails to capture his loving Heart. A little book called The Way of Divine Love, which records the visitations of Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez of the Society of the Sacred Heart, contains these passages:

“My Heart takes great comfort in forgiving. I have no greater desire, no greater joy, than when I can pardon a soul.”

“I will make known that the measure of My Love and Mercy for fallen souls is limitless. I want to forgive them. It rests Me to forgive. I am ever there, waiting, with boundless love till souls come to Me. Let them come, and not be discouraged. Let them fearlessly throw themselves into My arms!”

“I am Love and desire only love. O, if souls only realized how I wait for them in mercy. I am the Love of all loves, and it is My joy to forgive.”

Our Savior waits with longing to give us his mercy. Like the Canaanite woman we should never cease to beg him for it, since in faith we shall obtain what his Love already wishes to grant us.

Aug 15, 2014

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

I don't know how to be simple about today's feast. It is a feast so profound and so moving that I must say too much rather than too little. Most of what follows is excerpted from a beautiful book written by Hugo Rahner, called Our Lady and the Church. If it's depths pass us by the first time, at least it is an introduction to the deeper mystery of Our Lady. What is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary about? Is it merely a remembrance of some past event, however glorious, that happened to Mary? Why do we celebrate it? In the first place, it is about this glorious event that happened to Mary, the Mother of God. But liturgically and theologically it is more than just that. Liturgically, you will hear in the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer these words: “For today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven as the beginning and image of your Church's coming to perfection and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people...” Today? On this very calendar day? Yes! The prayers of the Church invite us to enter into the mysteries that we celebrate as if they were before our eyes, so that, we can draw from the contemplation of these mysteries the manifold graces that sustain and nurture our faith. They are not merely past events but the wonderful works of the Lord which sanctify us by contemplating them and dispose us to draw fruit from the Sacrament which we receive from the altar.

We heard in our Gospel the story of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. When Mary greets Elizabeth, Elizabeth says that John leaped in her womb and “Whom am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?.” And Mary remained with her about three months. What is being set before our eyes of faith for us to contemplate? Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant. When David first thought to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, David exclaimed, “How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?” In David's time the old ark of the covenant remained for three months in the house of Obededom before David brought it to Jerusalem, leaping before it with joy. The old Ark contained in it three things: the staff of Aaron the High Priest, mana from the Exodus, and the Ten Commandments or the Decalogue – the Ten Words. The New Ark, Mary, contains in her womb the True and Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, who is the True Bread come down from heaven, who is the Word of God made flesh. In every way the latter is superior to the former. And this helps us to understand our first reading from the Book of Revelation.

St. John the Evangelist says he saw a vision: “God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of the covenant could be seen in the temple.” Is he speaking about he old ark of the covenant? No. He continues in the next chapter to describe the ark of the covenant which he saw: “ A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.” The ark, the great sign, is Mary. But it is also the Church. Our Lady is the woman who in herself includes all the mysteries of the Church. This is the reality that explains the tensions of the text, for this mystery of the glory of Mary's body is the beginning of the glory of the Church. The woman is clothed with the sun in her heavenly glory. This refers to Mary as well as to the Church-to-be when it comes into perfection. And yet the woman is in the pains of childbirth. This refers to Mary at the foot of the Cross, for we are baptized into the Death of Christ, and so she becomes our Mother in that place, a title confirmed by the words of our Savior to the beloved disciple: “Behold your Mother.” And it refers to the Church, for by the entrance into her baptismal font, as if into her womb, we are born into new life. The woman has already entered into heaven. This refers to the assumption of Mary's body and to the Church Triumphant, the saints in heaven. And yet the woman is still on the painful journey here fleeing into the desert. This refers to Mary in her motherly concern for her children, for a mother's heart is always with her children wherever they may be and it refers to the Church Militant, to us, still on the pilgrimage of faith. Mary is at once the gracious Queen and the sorrowful Mother. St. Pius X teaches in his encyclical Ad diem illum: “Everyone knows that the great woman of Revelation represents the Virgin Mary, who without blemish gave birth to our Head. But the Apostle continues: 'Being with child, she cried travailing in birth and was in pain to be delivered.' John therefore saw the holy Mother of God, who indeed already possessed eternal beatitude, nevertheless in pain at a mysterious birth. What birth was this? It was indeed our own birth, for we are still in exile and in a state of being born for the perfect love of God and for everlasting happiness. And the woman's pain also symbolizes the Virgin's love, because of which she labors with unceasing prayer from her place in heaven, to fill up the number of the elect.” Just as Christ is the New Adam and Head of his Mystical Body, the Church, so Mary is the New Eve and the most illustrious member of his Mystical Body. She signifies the whole Church in a mysterious way. The blending of images of Mary and Holy Church in this one great sign is understood by countless mystics and the Church Fathers when they comment upon these passages.

St. Ephrem the Syrian writes these lines about the great mystery of Mary: “Mary is saying to Jesus: 'Shall I call Thee my son? Or my brother, my spouse or my Lord? For Thou hast given birth to Thy mother: rebirth through water. But truly I am Thy sister: from the seed of David like Thee. And truly I am Thy mother, for I conceived Thee in my womb. Thy bride I am, for Thou has paid the price with Thy death, Thy daughter in rebirth through Thy baptism. The son of the Most High came and rested with me, and I became His mother. Born of me, He in turn has given me rebirth, for He has clothed His mother with a new garment: He has absorbed His own flesh into Himself, and her He has clothed with the sunshine of Himself.” Can we not say the same thing with her? Is Jesus my Savior, my Lord and God? Yes. As a son of Adam he is also my brother according to our shared humanity. As the New Adam, I can also call him my father for I am reborn in Him. Is he not also my spouse, the beloved of my soul?

Psalm 131:8 of the Septuagint and Vulgate versions says: “Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified.” St. Thomas Aquinas interprets this verse of our Lady's Assumption. And the Greek Byzantine Liturgy sings on this Feast: “Come hither, all who love this festival, come let us dance and sing, come let us weave to the Church a garland of song: for today the ark of God's presence has come to rest!” Russian Orthodox theology preserves this insight: “High in heavenly glory stands the Virgin Mother of the human race: she has sanctified the whole world of nature, and in her and through her all things shall be gloriously transformed.” And an ancient Armenian hymn for the Feast of the Assumption says, “Today the choirs of fiery spirits look upon our own nature, made of clay, and tremble.”

The mystery we celebrate today is the mystery of Christ redemptive love and the power and glory of His Cross and Resurrection made perfect in the Blessed Virgin Mary. And it is also our own mystery being brought to perfection in us. It is a sign of sure hope and comfort, a sealing of the promise given to us in Christ. His Paschal Mystery is not just a wonder to our eyes as only a deed that shows the glory of God. It is not just an undertaking done for us, but there is also something done to us, to our nature. The Assumption of Mary body and soul into heaven is a mysterious sign that God can communicate to us, to our nature, His very own life, holiness and glory - not only in the joining of our nature to his divinity in the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity but even to us mere creatures. So we celebrate the Solemnity of the event that took place so long ago and we celebrate the sign of God's intention for us to partake in his eternal blessedness body and soul.

Aug 11, 2014

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Why does Jesus go into the desert and up a mountain to pray alone? The reading about Elijah helps to give us an answer. Elijah had just finished proving that Baal was a false God. Then he had their false religion destroyed along with the false priests and false prophets. The Queen at the time, Jezabel, threatened to kill Elijah. So Elijah, fearing for his life, escaped to the desert. In the desert God sends an Angel to feed him with bread for 40 days and 40 nights. The Angel leads Elijah to the mountain of God. On the mountain Elijah witnesses a fierce wind, an earthquake and fire. God is not in any of these things. Then there was a tiny whispering sound, the whisper of gentle air. And there when Elijah was alone, God revealed himself in the quiet whisper of wind.

In our Gospel last Sunday, Jesus heard about the murder of John the Baptist and withdrew to a deserted place by himself. The crowds followed him and he was moved with compassion when he saw them. He healed the sick and then fed them with bread. When he had taken care of these things, he sent his disciples away and also dismissed the crowds. Afterwards, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.

Elijah went out into the desert because he was frightened. Jesus goes out into the desert, too. He might have been frightened or sad at the death of his cousin. Or tired from preaching and healing. Or disappointed at being rejected by his own town. He knows that he needs solitude and prayer. God sends an angel to feed Elijah with bread. Jesus is the one who feeds the crowd. An angel leads Elijah to the mountain. Jesus needs no one else to know where he needs to go. Elijah has to be instructed by experience where God may be found. Jesus already knows.

Jesus is true God and true man. As God, he has no need to pray, but as man, he has every need to pray. Did Jesus pray with his disciples? Of course! Did he pray with the crowd? Absolutely! So why does Jesus go into the desert and up a mountain, alone, to pray? The heart needs prayer, both the public and communal type, as well as the private and intimate experience. God made us to take delight in praising him and our hearts remain restless until they rest in him. We need quiet and solitude to answer this need of our hearts. This can be a difficult thing for us to grasp. We are bad at being alone and really bad at being quiet. We fill our lives with the frenzy of almost constant sounds and entertainment: television, movies, radio, internet. We are almost constantly doing, doing, doing. When do we rest from all this? When we drop exhausted into our nightly sleep. I think that we fear being alone. I think we are afraid of being bored. We take our solitude and fill it with the things that numb our loneliness and boredom: Facebook, video games, and other less savory things. Yet have we ever been more lonely? Have these things ever been the source of a rich and meaningful life? None of these things can actually answer to our basic human needs. They accentuate and perpetuate our problems. At the very least, they do not resolve them.

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives: work, raising children, rushing around, even in the doing of good deeds, prayer becomes an afterthought, and then a memory, and soon no thought at all. If we do not have the habit of withdrawing to a deserted place and remaining in silence alone then it can be incredibly difficult to start. I suggest just a few minutes at first: 5, 10, or 15. Little by little we can begin to detach ourselves from the things which are not God and which, very often, do not lead to God. These superficial things occupy space in our minds, hearts and souls - a space that was intended to be filled with God and God alone.

At first, we can experience a discomfort with quiet and solitude. We may be distracted by all the things we are trying to put aside. Many things will rise up in our thoughts: memories, lists of tasks, temptations and emotions like anger or resentment. Often emotions or needs will rise which tell us we have been looking past or ignoring the more important aspects of our hearts. If we have the habit of numbing ourselves with many things, then the experience of solitude and quiet can even be painful at first. But we will soon discover the deepest need of the human heart and the only answer that adequately responds to it. When we are alone with God, we are not really alone (though it may feel that way). Only God can satisfy our deepest longings. Whatever our experience may be, at the root of all our longings, we will discover that God is never boring, nor are we. The most exciting thing about being human is our relationship with the God who loves us. And Jesus shows us how this relationship is fostered: by being alone with him, not necessarily doing any particular thing or even saying any particular thing, but just being in his presence and resting. His presence in our hearts calms the turbulent waters and gives us peace.

Aug 3, 2014

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The prophet Isaiah is drawing on the imagery of how The Lord fed his people during the exodus from Egypt. The Lord gave them bread from heaven having all sweetness within it. Every day the Israelites gathered the manna, but just enough for a day. He fed them without price. And he offers more than just bread for the stomach. He offers us eternal bread that satisfies the soul. "I will renew with you the everlasting covenant." If we listen to the prophet Isaiah again, we can hear the Lord pleading and begging with us: "Come! Come! Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life!"

We work so hard and become anxious for all sorts of things that do not last and do not satisfy. The Lord wants to give us for free something that satisfies and lasts forever! "Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?," says the Lord. God is longing to satisfy us with what satisfies forever!

When Jesus sees the crowd, "his heart was moved with pity for them." "Moved with pity." The Greek uses much stronger and richer language. It means to be moved in the innermost depths of the heart. Jesus is disturbed in his soul with his desire to heal and feed his people.

Today, Jesus sees you. He longs and desires to heal and feed you from his altar. Are you hungry? Come! "Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body," says the Lord. Are you thirsty? Come! "Take this, all of you, and drink for it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant," says the Lord.

Come! Eat! Drink! And be satisfied!

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Then he planted a garden in Eden, towards the East, where he placed the man he had formed. And God gave to the man this commandment: "From any tree of the garden you may eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, because on the day which you will have eaten of it, you shall surely die." But there was a serpent who was very clever. And one day he said to the woman, "Did God really forbid you to eat from any of the trees of the garden?" Remember - God only forbid them to eat from one tree. Do you see that the serpent has already lied? The woman responded to the serpent, "No. We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden, but not of the fruit of the tree which is in the center. God forbid us to eat of it and told us that we may not touch it, because we will die." What? God did not say those words. He never said "Don't touch" but rather "Don't eat." Already the first lie of the devil has confused the truth. And the woman has not told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Now she is ready for the next lie. The serpent said to the woman, "It is not true that you will die. On the contrary, God knows very well that if you eat of the fruit of the tree, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, for you will know good and evil." And the rest is history.

What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom? In Latin the words for wisdom and taste or flavor are related. Wisdom is to know the flavor of God, which is better than merely to know good and bad things. "Taste and see how good The Lord is, " says the Psalmist. And St. Augustine says, "Late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient ever new, late have I loved thee! . . . Thou exhaled perfume and I drew in a breath, and now I am panting and gasping for thee; I tasted thee, and now I am left hungering and thirsting for thee. . ." We need to experience the good savor of God in our hearts.

After the lies of the serpent, the Sacred Scriptures note that the fruit of that tree appeared appetizing, and beautiful to behold and excellent for acquiring wisdom. But it is not possible to take or steal wisdom by the violence of our wills or by disobedience. Wisdom is a gift from God. If, like Solomon, we ask God to grant us this gift, he gives it freely and willingly.

Then we will not see only the appearances, but rather we will know the reality. The world and the devil judge by the appearances of things. They believe themselves to be gods. "What, really, is marriage? What is life