Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The End of Wisdom

The first of today’s daily Mass readings includes this:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
– 1 John 4:18

The readings conclude with this Gospel, which picks up the tale of Jesus and His disciples just after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, which was covered in yesterday’s reading:

After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.

When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified.

But at once he spoke with them,“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.

– Mark 6:45-52

Like the tubfuls of wine at Cana, and Simon's net straining with fish, the “incident of the loaves” had been a marvelous overflowing of the superabundant divine love that sustains all things in being at every instant. If we take courage and let ourselves abide in the love of Christ, our cup will overflow with that Eucharistic superabundance.

Fear of the Lord, of the punishment of Hell, is indeed the beginning of wisdom for scoffing prodigals. But Love, not fear, is the end toward which true wisdom is directed.

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