By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THIS IS the kind of wisdom every believer and follower of Christ should have. It’s not enough to have the wisdom of this world, no matter how practical that may be, nor the wisdom of the flesh, no matter how mind-blowing, much less the wisdom of words, no matter how clever.
The wisdom of the cross is first a gift of the Holy Spirit to us before it becomes a virtue in us. Since it’s a gift, we have to pray for it constantly. Since it’s a gift that needs to be a virtue, we have to cultivate and develop it also.
The wisdom of the cross is the most perfect gift, embodying all the other spiritual gifts, since it completes charity by infusing light and love into our soul.
With it we are able to discern God and divine things in everything that we see and do. It gives us the appetite to relate everything to God, linking us to God through the things of this world.
It goes beyond understanding and knowledge which enable us to know divine and natural things in themselves and in their mutual relations, but without relating them to God, their ultimate cause.
These gifts and virtues do not automatically lead us to love, since they fall short of bringing us to God who is love, as St. John said so succinctly. It’s wisdom that does that. Wisdom makes us into contemplative souls, seeing and loving God in everything.
With this definition of wisdom, it can be said that it’s hardly seen around, since it is manifest that reference to God is scarcely done in the things we do. We think, reason out, speak, act and behave often by ourselves, without God.
But it can reside deep in our hearts, not visible to our senses and our worldly ways. As the Book of Wisdom says: “In each generation wisdom passes into holy souls, she makes them friends of God and prophets.” (7,27)
Saints and holy men and women have it, except that they are not fond of showing it off. It is perceived only by those who have the spirit in the manner spoken of by St. Paul:
“We have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are given us by God. Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
“The sensual man perceives not these things…for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined.” (1 Cor 2,12-14)
In cultivating and developing wisdom as a virtue in us, we need to struggle against things like laziness, disorder, unhealthy attachments, pride and all forms of sin. In fact, everything can be a frontline in this struggle.
Thus, this wisdom has to be the wisdom of the cross, which is the wisdom of Christ, since Christ showed the ultimate saving truth and love, and shares these things with us up to now, by dying on the cross.
We have to understand this supernatural truth with the grace of God, otherwise we succumb to what St. Paul once said about the crucified Christ:
“To the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and to the Gentiles foolishness. But to them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor 1,23-24)
It’s this wisdom that provides us with the proper furnace to forge our love for God and others, the acid test to probe the depth and range of our grasp of the truth in love. It’s the abiding conviction that everything gets resolved in the cross.
The wisdom of the cross goes much further than what our intelligence and will can penetrate. It gives life and vitality to our different human forms and structures, our cultural and personal ways.
As the late Pope John Paul II once said: “The wisdom of the Cross, therefore, breaks free of all cultural limitations which seek to contain it and insists upon an openness to the universality of the truth which it bears.” (Fides et ratio, 23)
Let’s learn this wisdom of the cross by conforming our thoughts and desires, our whole life, to Christ crucified, studying, praying, meditating on his words, and slowly and steadily assimilating his example into our life!