A meditation on the first Mass reading from November 10th (Wisdom 2:23-3:9) by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.
The first reading from the book of Wisdom is just a treasure chest. It says, “God formed man to be imperishable. The image of His own nature He made him, but by the envy of the devil, death entered the world/ and they who are in his possession experience it.” I don’t think it’s our imagination that when we come closer to God, it seems like everything goes wrong—every temptation runs head strong at us, whatever it be. Evil seems to know where to tickle. I believe that sometimes it’s just because of the envy of the devil: we are in the image of God, and the more we grow in that image, the more evil does everything to stop us or even just to take our eyes off of God. Evil says, “Well here let me plant this thing that I know really bugs you right in your face.” And it does bug us. It gets our whole attention, gets us upset and angry, and we lose sight of where were going. So in some way it’s good and it’s bad. It’s good because it tells us we are heading in the right direction (otherwise evil wouldn’t bother with us), but we need to fight temptation.
The reading goes on, “For if before men indeed they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality. Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace He proved them and as sacrificial offerings He took them to Himself.” It says that He tried them and found them worthy—well everyone else tried them too, along with God! That’s the sacrificial offering He took to Himself. A sacrifice requires death. If it’s still living and kicking, it’s not sacrificed. But that’s what has to happen. Something dies and God takes it to Himself because it was an offering. Living with a view of offering things up is important. It’s not an old fashioned way of living. To truly take that and have that mind set is really a means of holiness for us because it does draw us to God; because we’re giving the things that we love. What is it to give your old trash away? To give the things you love and to offer them to God as a specific offering is dear and sweet to Him, as sweet smelling incense. Often other people can really try us, but we can’t focus on what the other person is doing to us. Evil will give up on us if he only pushes us closer to God. So if the things that are really bothering you, you continually offer to God, eventually evil will say, “This isn’t working. This is having real bad repercussions.” Just remember that. We have to take seriously that temptation is going to be in our lives because God will try us. The thing we can do for each other is to pray for one another and to have a compassionate heart. We don’t know how hard somebody else is fighting just to do what they’re supposed to do. That is a sacrifice, but it will bear fruit.