Inquiry on the nature of wisdom: Christ and the scandal of the cross

Question:
I am currently in an Ethics class, and as a requirement for the course, I am supposed to ask somebody, who is, by some number of generations, older than me, about the idea of wisdom. I am currently seeking you as my interviewee, because of your very interesting profile: an intense physicist, and a passionate theologian and philosopher among many others. I believe that your experiences and beliefs about the world would provide me with helpful insight in living this life to the fullest. So to speak, I would like to ask you the following questions:
1) What do you think wisdom is, and
2) since it is clearly good and it is ought to be obtained, how does one obtain it, and
3) is/are the process/es of gaining wisdom relative, that is, are there a multitude of ways to obtain wisdom or is there an absolute way?
4) if there are multitude of ways, would you suggest your way of gaining wisdom to anybody for them to live as good as you do, and/or
5) would you have wanted to have known a better way of gaining wisdom, and in turn living your life better?
Again, I thank you so much for your time and insights. I really appreciate your willingness to communicate with me regarding such matters. I do hope to hear from you soon.
Response:
1) What do you think wisdom is?
Philosophers such as Aristotle and Aquinas have pondered on the nature of wisdom.  But since I have not studied their writings in depth, I shall only propose to you what wisdom is based on my understanding of the Scriptures.
Jesus told the parable of the wise man who built his house on a rock:
“Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock, [25] And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.  [26] And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand, [27] And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof. ” (Mt 7:24-27)
So wisdom then is to build one’s house, i.e. one’s life, on a rock, on a set of eternal truths, so that no matter what storms may come, even in the face of death, one’s life would not be shaken.
2) Since it is clearly good and it is ought to be obtained, how does one obtain it?
Jesus provides the answer: Wisdom is to listen to His words and act on them.  For as Christ said, ” Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Lk 21:33).  The words of Christ are the eternal truths on which we must base our life.  This is a rash and doubtful claim, if Christ were a mere man.  But since Christ is also God, then we can trust His words, for God can never deceive nor intend to deceive.
Christ, for example, summarized the Ten Commandments into the Law of Love:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. [13] Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:12-13)
The measure of love is not anymore ourselves, our friends, our spouse, or our parents.  Our love can be selfish love, because it seeks only our own pleasure.  Our friends may desert us when we need them most.  Our spouse may ask for divorce.  And our parents may disown us.  But Christ is the new absolute measure of love and on his love we can trust forever.  As St. Paul said:
” [7] For scarce for a just man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die. [8] But God commendeth his charity towards us; because when as yet we were sinners, according to the time, [9]Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:7-9)
3) Is/are the process/es of gaining wisdom relative, that is, are there a multitude of ways to obtain wisdom or is there an absolute way?
There is only one absolute way: Christ.  As Jesus said:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (Jn 14:6)
The path to wisdom is the road to Calvary.  The wise man who built his house on rock is Christ hanging on the cross mounted on the rock of Golgotha, the place of the skulls or ‘calvaria’.  Let us ponder on the words of St. Paul:
[21] For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe. [22] For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: [23] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: [24] But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. [25] For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor 1:21-25)
The path to wisdom is to follow what Christ did and accept the cross of life.  As Christ said:
[24] Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. [25]For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” (Mt:16:24-25)
The path to wisdom is to follow Christ and offer one’s life to God on the cross.  As Christ said before he died:
[46] And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.” (Lk 23:46)
4) If there are multitude of ways, would you suggest your way of gaining wisdom to anybody for them to live as good as you do? 
There is one absolute way to wisdom and that is the way of the cross of Christ.  But there are many roads that lead to that one path and these are the roads of the saints who followed the path of Christ.  And this is especially true of the martyrs.  St. Lawrence was grilled, St. Thomas More was beheaded, and St. Lorenzo Ruiz was tortured and hung upside down on a pit.  All for the sake of Christ.  As Christ said:
[16] Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. [17] But beware of men. For they will deliver you up in councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. [18] And you shall be brought before governors, and before kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles: [19] But when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what to speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what to speak. [20] For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.  [21] The brother also shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the son: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and shall put them to death. [22] And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.” (Mt 10:16-22)
5) Would you have wanted to have known a better way of gaining wisdom, and in turn living your life better?
The wisdom of Christ is enough.
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About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

2 Responses to Inquiry on the nature of wisdom: Christ and the scandal of the cross

  1. Ben says:

    “[24] Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. [25]For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” (Mt:16:24-25)
    The path to wisdom is to follow Christ and offer one’s life to God on the cross. As Christ said before he died:
    “[46] And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.” (Lk 23:46)

    ————————————————————————————————————-

    btw, what can explain about the ‘man-on-the-cross’ (e.i. Jesus — according to you who believe it was him) has said:

    *”Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

    * And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    — Matthew 27:45-46

    imagine this —>>> Jesus was forsaken by God! Huhuwahuwahahahaha! can’t help my self but —- Laugh Out Loud! hwahahahahaha! :-)

  2. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Ben,

    Jesus is speaking the words in Psalm 22:

    “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?” (Ps 22:2)

    If you read the psalm carefully, you will see how the psalm describes the suffering of Christ:

    But I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 8 All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me: 9 “You relied on the LORD–let him deliver you; if he loves you, let him rescue you.” (Ps 22:7-9)

    This is fulfilled when the following verse of Matthew 27:

    Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads 40 r and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, [and] come down from the cross!”41 Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. So he is the king of Israel!* Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 * s He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Mt 27:39-43)

    Here’s another verse that describes his ordeal as he hung on the cross:

    Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me. 16 5 As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death. 17 Many dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. So wasted are my hands and feet 18 that I can count all my bones. (Ps 22:15-18)

    His garments were divided by lots as predicted by the Psalm:

    19 They divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots. (Ps 22:19)
    After they had crucified him, they divided his garments* by casting lots;36 then they sat down and kept watch over him there. (Mt 27:25-26)

    You can laugh out loud, but the Psalm does not end in death, but in a prayer of hope for God’s deliverance:

    “You who fear the LORD, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel!25 7 For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out. (Ps 22:24-25)

    In the end, Christ rose from the dead in the fulfillment of Scriptures.

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