Memorial of Saint Gertrude, The Great, nun and mystic

Wis 7:22-8:1; Ps 119:89-91,130,135,175; Lk 17:20-25

Saint Gertrude, a Benedictine Nun from Helfta, Germany, was deeply committed to her Divine Spouse, Christ the LORD.  Such an intimate and powerful union with the Lord Jesus and His Sacred Heart lead her into the center of the Most Holy Trinity.  Her nuptial mysticism was not isolationist; it planted her directly in the heart of the Church, the Body of Christ.  Such a profound secret friendship became the source of all her happiness in this world and the future kingdom.  Saint Gertrude’s monastic witness and virtuous lifestyle summons the whole Church to sing the praise of God, to proclaim all his wondrous deeds.  Indeed, we are to glory in his Holy Name; we are to rejoice in His Sacred Heart even as our heart seeks the LORD.  Indeed, this holy nun and beautiful mystic lead the people with joy; with shouts of joy she summoned the chosen ones of Christ.  In the peaceful stillness of every heart surrendered to Divine Love the all-powerful word bounds and conquers all our fear and hesitation to become saints.  Indeed, this is the only way that the Son of Man will find faith on the earth when he comes again in his glory.  We are here at liturgy today so that we might hear the summons and respond more fully to the Son of Man who comes, gives us faith and fulfils our faith.

Sometimes things are so simple we can’t understand them.  Sometimes the answer to our question is found in the asking.  Sometimes wisdom is so bright we are blinded.  The wisdom literature in both the first reading and the psalm today offers an insight into the wisdom of God that is so near we easily miss it.  The word of the Lord is as enduring as the heavens.  The truth of God is available in every generation.  The ordinances of the Lord are a solid foundation for living a fully human life.  The revelation of God’s wisdom sheds light.  This light is understood by the truly simple, by those who have no desire or agenda clouding their vision.  The very glimpse of the Lord’s face gives brightness to those who serve him by obeying his commands.  In the brightness of his face the humble, simple, loving servant of the Lord finds a fountain of praise.  It is the ordinances of God that provide for us every necessary guidance, all along the way. The book of Wisdom can’t praise wisdom enough and we who love the Lord cannot not seek wisdom, “For there is naught God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom.”  This wisdom is revealed in today’s gospel when the Lord Jesus gives testimony to the presence of the Kingdom and the mysterious arrival of that Kingdom in his rejection.  Only in the folly of the cross is found boundless wisdom and tender mercy.

This poetic praise of wisdom is unsurpassed in all Scripture.  One can liken it to the poetic praise of love found in First Corinthians.  “For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.”  Even in its English translation this poetry is captivating.  The Wisdom of God is not excluded from any creature because she is so pure, simple, and bright that in wisdom every creature beholds its own true identity, and every creature is moved toward the God who moves constantly toward us for a full and transforming embrace.  Such Wisdom produces both the friends of God and prophets of the Most High.  Notice these are not always equivalent terms.  Indeed sometimes the prophets feel like the enemies of God rather than his friends.  As Jeremiah moans, you Lord are like a running brook that goes dry when most needed.  With these kinds of prophets and friends of God among us hope abounds unabashedly.  Ultimately, Wisdom brightens light itself; “Compared to light, she takes precedence; for that, indeed, night supplants, but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.  Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well.”

Of course it has to be the Pharisees who ask the question.  Those who claim boundless wisdom and pervading power keep looking foolish during their interactions with the Wisdom of God made flesh in Jesus the Christ.  In today’s gospel they ask for a timetable so they could recognize the coming of the Kingdom of God; they want to have a knowledge that gives them control.  No such control is available, nor is it desirable.  The arrival of the Reign of God is beyond observation and announcement, simply because it is already here among those who repent and believe.  We who live in this moment of mercy have our longing fulfilled because today is the day the Lord has made.  We do not wander all over creation seeking lightening strikes or flashes of spiritual excitement.  We already know the crucified and risen Lord of Glory who suffered greatly and was rejected by his own.  The Lord Jesus is the one who reveals the pure light of the wisdom found upon the cross and in the resurrection.  Indeed, the Cross–is our only friend.  When every other light is only darkness then the wisdom of the cross shines brightly and we have no fear because love casts out all fear.