Year B Pentecost 17 – Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37
The Book of Proverbs ends with a summary of its teachings. Throughout the book, wisdom was personified by two women. One was wise and the other foolish. The personification of wisdom grasps and holds the attention of the reader. It also elevates women to a position of power, holding influence over the affairs of estate, economy, and household prosperity.
The Psalms open with a contrast between two ways of proceeding through life. One way is encouraged by those who understand God’s teachings. The other is a way influenced by those who scoff at God’s words. The two ways are sung over and over throughout the Psalms. Through comparison and contrast, the reader must choose which way they will follow.
James explicitly states there are two wisdoms. One is from above; the other from below. One is heavenly; the other devilish. One is spiritual; the other sensual. Your conduct will demonstrate the type of wisdom you follow.
Jesus provides a contrast in thinking about greatest. His disciples were thinking that greatest comes by hierarchy. Jesus taught it comes from servitude. He illustrated the point by taking a child and putting it into his arms. Your attitude and treatment of the vulnerable illustrates your treatment of Jesus. It is not how much you know of Christ’s teachings or how long you have served in the Church, greatest is achieved by receiving the vulnerable in Christ’s name.