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Word to the wise

Friday, March 23, 2007
Friday 4 of Lent

Readings: Wisdom 2:1a,12-22; Psalm 34; John 7:1-2,10,25-30

Reading this passage from the book of Wisdom might provoke a sympathetic nod of the head. And its familiarity runs deeper than the obvious tendency to read the experience of Christ into the speech. Sometimes doing the right thing marks you out from the crowd. Its very strangeness throws judgement on the behaviour of others.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. (Wis. 2.14-15)

In Britain today, this verse could well apply to the practising Christian. A visibly religious way of life confronts the values of others. We often find people against us when we challenge their actions; question their morality. It is easy in a secular society to cast ourselves as ‘the just one’. Just as this passage foreshadows the life of Christ, so the Christian life, by its very existence, illuminates the life of sin.

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed (Jn. 3.19-20)

But who says we are living the Christian life? It is also possible to read our own annoyance, humiliation and anger in the words of the evil men. Nobody likes to be criticised. Do we not more often feel resentment at those whose lives judge us rather than the determination to do better? The wisdom cuts both ways.

If we read this wisdom in the light of Jesus’s life we should not too quickly cast ourselves as sympathisers. Too often we are ‘the wicked’. Lucky for us we are offered salvation through Jesus Christ, the only one whose life is both judgement and redemption.


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