Readings for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 9:30-37; James 3:13-4:10; Jeremiah 11:18-20

What image comes to mind when you hear the word “wisdom”? Close your eyes for a moment, speak the word, and see… Wisdom is often described as a special skill that one acquires or as an attribute that one possesses (like we might say a person is mechanical or musical). But that’s not how James talks about it in Sunday’s epistle. What does he say? He says wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (James 3). Notice that it’s not so much about me, per se;  it’s more about how I relate to those around me.

People will know you are wise, not by hearing what you know, but by seeing how you treat them. 

This is no ordinary way of thinking. This is “wisdom from above”. It does not seek its own glorification. It doesn’t get caught up in arguments over “who is the greatest” (Mark 9). It moves happily to the end of the line and delights in serving without the need for recognition or reward. The truest image of wisdom, then, is the face of Christ.