Wisdom as the gift of the Spirit of God is gifted to everyone who seeks it.
Even for the readings this Sunday, it is salutary to attempt to read them with universalist eyes – as addressed to the wide world and not just to this or that group of Christians.
It is amazing to think that the inspiration to speak of wisdom like this comes from participation in the great divine-human dialogue. Humanity contains within itself the spark of the divine. ‘Wisdom is bright and does not grow dim. By those who love her she is readily seen.’ Wisdom as the gift of the Spirit of God is gifted to everyone who seeks it – of whatever religion or culture – it is the inheritance of all humanity and can be quarried from every age of mankind. ‘Watch for her early and you will find her sitting at your gates.’ Be they then gates of Christian, Jew, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist or of any human philosophy. How liberating to so read ‘our’ (away with proprietorial readings!) Judeo–Christian scriptures! The restricting clothes of our narrowing interpretations, too often backed up by exclusivist, self-authenticated, authoritative claims, fall away, and we enter the lovely upper atmospheres breathed over by the Spirit of God. So we pray that we will find wisdom ‘sitting at our gates’!
In 1 Thessalonians: ‘those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise…’ we come to the Christian perception of the gift given to all humanity, available to those allied with the work of the man Jesus – but not thereby taken away or to be seen in opposition to that previous gift of ‘resurrection’ given to those who are not so privileged as to know Jesus’ resurrection and so be called to be part of it. All are offered resurrection, some know it comes via Jesus and can self-consciously align themselves with it by sharing in his death – but many people achieve resurrection unknowingly, but with deep human perception, gifted to them by the Holy Spirit of God in ways we cannot measure, sharing in the Divine – Human movement of self-sacrificial love.
This is the work of the cosmic Christ of John’s prologue. ‘Resurrection is only for those who are crucified’, as John Sobrino SJ of El Salvador used to say. It is available to those who know of the crucifixion of the man Jesus or not – most of them do not (the world’s children dying in intolerable agony, the gentle good of all religions past and present who never knew or know Jesus) but their joy at the resurrection will be all the greater. Christians meet the One they have struggled to recognise on their roads to Emmaus in life lived out. All others meet the One they glimpsed in their travels of love, sacrifice and their search for humanity. All these (with Christians in a distinct minority) constitute the widest meaning of ‘those who have died in Christ’, and they too ‘will be the first to rise…’
In Matthew, the whole of humanity is called to the wedding feast, and the only division is to be found in the Divine judgement, not open to us, of those who do not stay awake and those who do. And so the word is addressed to everyone: ‘Stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’ Humanity is called to be awake to the reality of its deep significance and its destiny.