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Wisdom is so good. Wisdom is not just a bunch of cold facts or brute knowledge. It understands with heart. When I look up at the stars at night, and my heart is moved to say “God you are wonderful because you are so big and vast!” That is wisdom. It is the heart and the mind collaborating as a team. Did I ever tell you why I like orange? When I was about six years old, I needed stitches. Mom took me to the emergency room and stayed with me during the entire procedure. When it was done I was dizzy with pain. My mother reached into her pocketbook and gave me an orange lollypop. It was so delicious. It made me forget the pain. That is wisdom. Wisdom is not just saying “Peter, you need stitches now.” It is the lollypop. Wisdom is knowledge with compassion, knowledge with heart.
One time I went fly fishing at a local pond. So there I was, in the peace catching fish from shore. A car drove into the park, and a man got out of the car with his dog. The first thing he did was take the dog off the leash. Naturally the dog bolts into the woods. The man started to call for his dog: “Buck, Buck.” Of course, the dog did not return. He told Buck to come, and Buck never came. The owner made his way around the pond, and he walked by me and asked: “How’s the fishing?” I said, “Really good.” “That looks fun,” he said. I said, “It is!” He didn’t look like he was having a good time. If he asked me for some advice, I would have told him to either keep the dog on the leash or, better yet, trade the dog in for a fly rod. I would have told him that because it is always better to live by the heart.
The author of the letter of James does not say to live by the wallet, or by the stomach, or by your pride, or by fear. Live by the heart.
There was a variety show on the last day of school in my sixth grade. It was a way to celebrate our departure from elementary school. A few months before our teachers brought us to the auditorium and we broke up into groups. I teamed up with some of my friends, and we started to discuss our plan when my teacher came over and asked me if I would work with three kids from the special education class. When I saw they had Down Syndrome, I knew that my friends and classmates were going to tease me because sixth graders are cruel. We went over to the piano teacher, and she said, “Let’s sing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” I immediately saw that these kids could not sing, they could not dance, and it was going to be a disaster. I also noticed that they were constantly happy, they were full of energy, and they really liked me a lot. And I like to be liked. So we started to hit it off. Every Friday afternoon for the next two months, we met to practice our routine.
The day finally arrived; the curtains opened, and the four of us walked out single file waving our top hats and holding our umbrellas. We did the “flipper flapper” with our feet. We did the “hide behind the umbrellas trick.” We did the umbrella “pirouette,” and we did the “stacking head” trick behind the curtain. For the grand finale, we sang the last note in four-part harmony and slid across the stage as they closed the curtains. We got up on our feet. When they opened the curtain to bow, I could not believe what I saw. Everyone was on their feet, the families, teachers, and all my classmates. They didn’t stop applauding. We stood there, maybe two minutes, maybe five It wasn’t because we were good. In fact, we were awful. It was because we were special.
Live by the heart. This is the way of the wise.Back to All Homilies