Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, pope
(Wisdom 7:22b-8:1; Luke 17:20-25)
People often think of the present age as the greatest. But are its representative products -- I-phones, plasma TVs, global positioning devices – really so wonderful? Or do they, like the fashions of every age, just provide the rich with outlets for their wealth and the poor with objects to crave? Can we not ask with T.S. Eliot a few generations ago, “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
Today’s first reading reminds us that wisdom has an eternal character that is available to every age. It is also universal so that both rich and poor may partake of it. In contriving twenty-one attributes the author shows how wisdom, and not the products of technology and commerce, makes life worthwhile. The number, incidentally, symbolizes absolute perfection being the product of seven, representative of simple perfection, and three, indicative of the divine.
Wisdom admonishes us to discern the value of everything. It recognizes the satisfaction that comfort and convenience bring us but realizes that these do not comprise happiness. Most importantly, it understands that fulfillment is found in our striving to live righteously giving each his or due, beginning with God, not overlooking anyone nor ignoring our own potential.