October 6 – Friday of the Eighteenth Week after Pentecost (3rd of Luke) Luke 7:31-35
Wisdom’s Children – Vindication: Luke 7:31-35, especially vs. 35: “But wisdom is justified by all her children.” The Lord Jesus’ assertion at the end of this reading provides a window into a series of Gospel selections that start today and continue through Tuesday of the twenty-first week after Pentecost. Two preliminary issues need to be explored at the outset: first, who is wisdom, and second, who are the children of wisdom?
The Orthodox Church identifies wisdom with the Lord Jesus Himself. The famous church of Hagia Sophia – “Holy Wisdom” – in Constantinople was built as the first among temples honoring Christ our God. According to Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus “holds His royal dignity, and shares the Father’s seat, being God and Wisdom and Power, as hath been said; reigning together with the Father, and creating all things for the Father, yet lacking nothing in the dignity of godhead, and knowing Him that hath begotten Him, even as He is known of Him that hath begotten” (“Fourth Catechetical Lecture,” NPNF Second Series, vol. 7, p. 21).
The Apostle Paul expresses the truth that Christ Jesus is “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:24. The conviction that Christ is Holy Wisdom clarifies our reading of Scripture, especially the Old Testament. It is the pre-incarnate Christ, the Wisdom of God, who illumines by the power of the Holy Spirit those preparing the garments of the High Priest Aaron (Ex 28:3). Holy Wisdom likewise fills King Solomon with such understanding that he is fearsome to his subjects (3 Kgs 3:27). The Prophet David understands that Wisdom enables the tongue of the righteous to “speak of judgment” (Ps 36:31). As the creative Wisdom of God, Christ made the heavens and the earth (Ps 135:5-6).
The fourth-century controversy over Christ’s essence stemmed, in part, from Arius’ interpretation of Proverbs 8, in which Wisdom says, “The Lord created me in the beginning of His ways for His works” (vs. 23). Arius insisted that the passage indicates Christ to be a creature of God, albeit supreme among God’s creatures. He used this reading of Proverbs to attack the divinity of Christ: “He established me in the beginning before time, before He made the earth. . . . He begot me” (Prv 8:23, 25).
Finally, at the Ecumenical Council called by Constantine in AD 325, the Church proclaimed in the Nicene Creed that Christ is “of one essence with the Father.” Arianism was repudiated after years of struggle. Since that time the Orthodox Church has omitted verses 22-31 of Proverbs 8 from the cycle of readings during Great Lent. Rightly understood, however, the passage provides an excellent description of Christ as God the Word, “by whom all things were made.”
Another question remains: who are wisdom’s children? According to Blessed Theophylact, these children are all “those who have accepted the words of both John and Jesus” (Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke, p. 79). This is what the Lord Jesus teaches when “He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother’” (Mk 3:34-35).
We understand that the children of Wisdom refers to that great cloud of witnesses, including the Theotokos, the saints, and every member of the Church (Heb 12:1), who did and are now doing the will of God. The uncreated light of eternal Wisdom shines through them, so that “by their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:20). Let us stand among His children like a good tree and bear good fruit (see Mt 7:17).
Verily, O Savior, Thou art Wisdom and Truth and hath appeared and lighted those who lie in darkness and the shadow of death; for Thou hast revealed Light unapproachable. – Verse for the Feast of Theophany