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Catholic Diocese of Umuahia


INTELLIGENCE IS NOT ENOUGH! A Reflection for the25th Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Year B.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Tue, 28 Sep 2021

Readings: Wis 2:12, 17-24; Jas 3: 16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37

The readings of today ask us to re-examine how we use our opportunities. We could be like the virtuous victim of the first reading who stands true to God amidst the afflictions. We can also eschew jealousy and disharmony in our relationships with one another. Indeed, with our great learning and knowledge, we can still have the innocence and simplicity of the little Child of Jesus’ example today. As Christians, we can still learn so much from Jesus about ambition.

Our opportunities could be social or spiritual. Our privileges could double into learning, charisma, or sheer personal advantage in one way or another. Whatever our giftedness could be, today they raise soul-searching questions: Do we unleash evil with our knowledge? Have we looked another way while standing injustice or played a part in lying in wait against the innocent? Are there wars raging in our lives and our hearts just because our wishes did not come through now? Have we wanted something inordinately and turned to violence because things never went our way? Is academic knowledge or learning all that we need to live the good life in the world? In short, is the head knowledge alone enough for our survival in practical or moral life? Put in another way, if we are in the jet age of the 21st century, why has comfort not translated to greater happiness?  Therefore, being smart is not enough. Having control makes us weak. We need the power of the little child.

Intelligence is not enough because we need God’s wisdom. To listen to today’s Scripture readings is to consider the wisdom that righteousness, simplicity, innocence inspires. It means the appreciation that we are thinking about another level of learning and knowing. Those who dismiss recognition for God in the world or ridicule religious truths lack true wisdom, which is the hallmark of the freedom of the Children of God. We impose such limitations on our God-given capacity to know God, love God in our neighbor, and make a difference in the world. Acting like this is the wisdom from above.

Our knowledge, information, and awareness from our experience show that being smart is not enough. Today, the “intelligence” that we gather from our daily experiences confirms that the godless still lie in wait against the virtuous. Without the quality of God’s truth and the character of God’s will to restrain, worldly smartness lies helpless while we play false to our upbringing (Wisd 2:12). The arrogance throws us into useless arguments or leaves us with more confused values. St James reminds us that the battles that rage in our world have roots in our hearts currently. For,  “wherever you find jealousy, ambition, and disharmony: wicked things are being done.” On the other hand, ‘the wisdom that comes from above is pure, full of compassion and shows itself by doing good’ (Jas 3:17).

The Gospel, reporting the rivalry and jealousy among Jesus’ followers, connects us with choosing God’s wisdom. The “me first” mentality happens in us as well. Rather than seek to understand the way of Jesus, we presume support on our own standards. We raise our paradigms to be applied to Jesus. Like the disciples, we may accept Jesus outright, but we become complacent to the lack of wisdom by making no efforts to understand him.

Again, why did Jesus take a little child (Mk 9:37)? Why stand the power paradigm of this world on its head? The two crucial attributes of Christlike stewardship – self-abandonment and the willingness to sacrifice are too eloquent to ignore. Then Jesus prefers the sign of the child to remind us just how un-childlike we can be in our complexities for self.


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