“Now then, my children, listen to me . . . .” says the writer of Proverbs.
The three passages for today call us to “listen” to the Lord in three different ways: by serving, accepting, and craving. These passages suggest that listening to the Lord should not be a passive activity. Instead, these passages call us into active listening. In Psalm 134, we are commanded to serve in the Lord’s house and praise him. In Proverbs, we are challenged to listen to Wisdom’s invitation to her table and to accept the invitation. In I Peter, if we crave the spirit, we receive the gift of salvation. Ultimately, these three nuanced ways of listening all require action from us as well. As a result of active listening to the Lord, these passages suggest that we are welcomed into deeper wisdom.
What is wisdom? There are many definitions for this term. For example, one’s ability to discern inner qualities and relationships is wisdom. Another definition describes wisdom as the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. However, my favorite definition is that “wisdom is knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life.” In this definition, wisdom comes with time and experience. Clearly the concept of “wisdom” is complicated.
In the section of Proverbs that we read for today, the Lord calls us to listen and act on His invitation to come to His table. This invitation comes in many forms. Perhaps one day, it happens in the middle of a conversation with a friend. Another day, it might be in a challenging moment with a co-worker or a child or a parent. If we accept His invitation and act, our lives become wonderfully complicated as He opens up new understanding. We drink His wine and have the chance to walk in greater insight. Our perspective might shift, a friendship might deepen, our language might soften. The writer of Proverbs encourages us to “Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” With greater insight, our abilities to observe, comprehend, discern, and have vision increase. Yet, this wisdom is not possible on our own, but is a gift from God. Proverbs says “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” We cannot grow in wisdom on our own. It takes a commitment to listen, to watch, and to wait.
At the center of today’s readings is this essential message:
By listening to the Lord, waiting on Him, working for Him,
We will be invited into deepening wisdom, we will receive the Lord’s favor,
We will find life through Him.
“May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.”