Isaiah (11:1-10) paints a beautiful word picture of hope. Salvation and wholeness will come to the people. Jesus will be the bud that will blossom forth. The Spirit of the Lord will endow him with many gifts.
He shall have, among the other gifts, a Spirit of Wisdom. At times in the scriptures, Wisdom is identified with the Spirit. At others, Jesus is Wisdom, “in the beginning was the Word” dancing before God as creation blossoms forth.
One of Merton’s major contributions, in my opinion, is that he revived the sapiential tradition in Christianity. Relying on Islamic Sufi mystics, the desert fathers and mothers, and Eastern Orthodox and Russian mystics, Merton came to understand Sophia—Hagai Sophia—Holy Wisdom.
Traditional theology is top down and comes to us as defined dogma. There is a place for defined doctrine. The sapiential traditional begins at the other end of the spectrum—our lived human experience.
Merton was also heavily influenced by the Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins said, “There is on all things a deep down beauty.” Inscape is Wisdom. “There is in all things an invisible fecundity.” Wisdom enables us to see with the eyes of our hearts the inner meaning, the inner essence of things. Inscape Wisdom allows us to peel back the layer of the onion until we get to what is really important. This is the genius of Merton in that he was able to see the inscape of so many things and come to the point where common understanding can take place.
Maybe we can then translate Isaiah’s vision in this manner:
The Hindu shall be the guest of the Muslim.
And the Evangelical shall lie down with the Catholic.
The Buddhist and the Christian shall browse together,
With a Little Child to lead them.
Merton understood, along with all the great mystics, that we are all one in God. There are no borders in God’s Kin-dom.
Psalm72 and part of Isaiah tell us what shall bring about these right relationships—justice. Right order shall prevail in the Kin-dom. “All will be well.” God will hear the cry of the poor and oppressed and alleviate their misery with the introduction of a new world order based on justice—right relationship with God, right relationship with one another, right relationship with God’s creation.
In Luke’s Gospel (10:21-24), Jesus speaks the wisdom tradition. The hidden things—the inscape of things—shall be revealed if we are childlike. Isaiah says a child shall lead them. Luke says we must be childlike. We await the re-birth of the Child who will lead us and will empower us to be childlike.
Blessed are we who see the inner meaning, the Wisdom, of what Jesus reveals. Wisdom paves the path to justice. Wisdom enables us to see that which produces justice—the inner oneness of all in God. Let us pray for Wisdom which is a gift of the Spirit.
In the wisdom spirit of the Rule of Benedict, we ask God to let us hear with the ears of our hearts. The heart is our deep-down inner being where God dwells within us. We become Jesus so that we can see what He sees and hear what He hears—justice and peace. “Love one another as I have loved you.” “Forgive your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” “Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Care for the sick. Visit the imprisoned. Welcome the stranger. Declare the Year of Jubilee debt relief.”
Come, Holy Wisdom.
Enlighten our hearts.
Empower us to see what is really real.
Enable us to hear your Word.
Give us the humility to be childlike,
To let a Child lead us.
Come, Holy Wisdom! Come!