Birthday Present

Next Tuesday, September 26, I shall be fifty eight. So, I have been wondering what kind of a birthday gift I may ask from God. He is so generous and so kindhearted that I am sure He will do his best to give me what I ask! The truth is I do not need to reflect much on what I want.

We are surrounded by a circus of mistakes and blunders committed through poor discernment. Teenagers who confuse love with sex, youth who never think of their vocation, parents who having been disappointed with their own expectations double them for their children, parents working so much as to neglect their children, couples who live together without getting married because ‘this is the way it goes’, priests and teachers who would rather be fashionable than faithful, Christians who prefer comfort to compassion…

The foolish gain their status not only by what they do, but also by what they fail to do. If one person says ‘you’re a donkey’, don’t mind; if two say this be worried; if three say so, get a saddle! So much poor judgment with so many sad consequences. We reap what we sow.

This is why for my birthday, I want what Solomon wanted! When at the beginning of his sovereignty, he goes to the heights of Gibeon, where a shrine was erected, Solomon has a dream-revelation during the night. God appears and invites him to ask for a gift. The answer of Solomon is loud and clear. “Give your servant an understanding heart …” (1 Kings 3:9).

Every third Saturday of the month, the words of the morning canticle echo so deeply in my heart, “Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, and reject me not from among your children”

Yes, I want wisdom as my birthday gift, because “wisdom rescues from troubles those who serve her” (Wisdom 10:9).

The Book of Proverbs is even more explicit. “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Pope John Paul II in one of his Wednesday conferences (January 2003) made this judicious comment. “Without this gift, one is aware that one is without a guide, as if deprived of a polar star that will guide one in the moral choices of life: ‘For I am … a man weak and short-lived and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws … if Wisdom, who comes from you, be not with him, he shall he held in no esteem.”

The Book of Genesis makes it clear that God had a busy first week: creating heaven and earth, sun and moon, water and land, plants and animals, man and woman. But yet, the Book of Proverbs tells us that his first creation was Wisdom. The reason being that wisdom is the mother of all life and the guide to right living. And …God’s endless delight. Her teachings are passionate, powerful and yet rarely heard.

Scripture portrays wisdom as a lady. Scholars suggest that the reason is because wisdom is honorable, noble, beautiful, elegant, and cultured.

What is for sure is that wisdom is like a lamp that lights up our daily moral choices and leads us on the straight path. It is the knowledge of God’s world and the knack of fitting oneself into it. That is why I need it badly.

They asked Rabbi Levi, ‘why is the first page number missing in all the expositions of the Babylonian Talmud? Why does each begin with the second?” He replied, “However much a man may learn, he should always remember that he has not even gotten to the first page!” I need wisdom. It will teach me my ignorance.

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. Fear of God is not dread of God. It is more the apprehension of losing such a generous and strong ally. I need wisdom. It will keep alive in me this beautiful fear.

At a critical moment in one of Napoleon’s military campaigns, the commanders rushed into his tent, breathless, “Sir, the enemy is getting closer!” Napoleon shrugged and replied, “Get bigger maps and they won’t seem so close!” I need wisdom. It will help me keep everything in perspective.

“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly!” I need wisdom. It will support me to make sense of my moments of darkness.

A four year old boy was touched when he saw his neighbor, an elderly gentleman crying because he had just lost his wife. Seeing this, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing. I just helped him cry”. I need wisdom. It may give me the eyes and the heart of a child.

Tuesday coming, do pray for me, please.


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.