16Nov 16 Nov 2017. Thursday, Week 32

Saint Margaret of Scotland; Saint Gertrude

1st Reading: Wisdom 7:22-8:1

Wisdom reaches from end to end and governs all things well

There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle.

Wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. She is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.

Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.

She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail. She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well.

Gospel: Luke 17:20-25

The reign of God is not somewhere else, but is already among us

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.”


Finding wisdom

At the centre of a good life there is wisdom, which is an ability to recognise “the reign of God”. This wisdom “penetrates and pervades all things.” We are called to an integral life, and to such solidarity with others that the God’s kingdom can flourish among us. The Book of Wisdom sees integrity as coming through wisdom, sophia,  God’s supreme gift to mankind. It portrays God as compassionate and good, always and everywhere creatively at work in our world.

Perhaps we grow impatient when things go awry in our world and like the Pharisees, we would love to know when the God’s reign will be visible to us. In answering them, Jesus turns aside the question, when. The kingdom of God is not to be identified with a definite point in time. It is useless to try to predict the end of the world on such and such a day. He also refuses to locate the reign of God in any particular place, “here” or “there.” There is no priveleged, all-holy place where the kingdom dwells, as though one place were nearer to God than another. But Jesus’ answer includes this insight: The reign of God is already in your midst.

The kingdom of God has already begun, through the presence of Jesus who abides in us. In this life we  already taste something of the sweetness of eternal life. Here we may imbibe the strength to be strong and loyal, for God’s wisdom lives in the human heart at its best.

Right here and now

Sometimes we miss something of great significance; it is right there before us but somehow we do not notice it. When the Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of God will come, he says, “the kingdom of God is already among you.” They failed to see that the kingdom of God was present in and through his own person and healing ministry. They were not alert to the signs of God’s kingdom in his actions and teaching. The kingdom of God was there but in a less dramatic form than they expected it.

This reminds us that the Lord is present in our lives in more ways than we realize. His presence does not admit of observation or measurement. It will often be un-dramatic, without fanfare. Yet the Lord is really present especially in the words and deeds of people who build up and heal and bring life. The Lord assures us that we will never be without his presence. What we need are eyes to see and ears to hear, the eyes and ears of faith. Like the disciples earlier in Luke’s gospel we need to pray, “Increase our faith.” [MH]


Saint Margaret of Scotland

Margaret (c. 1045-1093) was an English princess of the House of Wessex, though born in exile in Hungary. She and her family returned to England in 1057, but fled to Scotland following the Norman conquest of England of 1066. Around 1070 she married Malcolm III and became queen of Scotland. Among many charitable works Margaret established a ferry (“Queensferry”) for pilgrims travelling to Dunfermline Abbey. Se died at Edinburgh Castle in 1093.


Saint Gertrude

Gertrude of Helfta (1256 – 1302) was a German Benedictine, mystic, and theologian. At the age of twenty-five, when she experienced the first of a series of visions, her priorities shifted from secular knowledge and toward the study of Scripture and theology. She devoted herself to prayer and meditation, and began writing spiritual treatises for her monastic sisters. With her friend and teacher Saint Mechtild, Gertrude practiced a spirituality of “nuptial mysticism,” seeing herself as the bride of Christ.

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