Some years ago, I heard a preacher tell a story that still speaks to me about wisdom—the birth of wisdom many of us celebrate in the birth Jesus. I do not remember who the preacher was, but I want to credit and thank him. This is the story:
In the middle of the night, in a major, metropolitan municipality, evidently someone broke into a large national electronics store. According to the police, there was evidence of a robbery. The alarm sounded. The police were alerted, but no robbers were apprehended. And there was one other curious factor. When the store manager reviewed inventory, she discovered that nothing was missing! The robbers failed to actually steal anything! So business resumed and customers arrived. That’s when the reality of what had transpired began to reveal itself. Customers purchasing small-ticket items, such as batteries, had the prices scan in at the checkout as exorbitantly high: hundreds of dollars! But then, people started bringing up flat screen TV’s and I-phones. Those prices scanned as $2 and $3.95. All of a sudden, the reality of what had happened became clear. The price tags had been changed! Low-cost items were very expensive and high-priced ones discounted. Highly-valued commodities were de-valued and vice verse.
The wisdom Jesus taught and exemplified changed all the values of his world – and ours as well! He considered that power, status, and money of little value and only insofar as they serve to help and save people in need, to foster justice and equity between people. Compassion, generosity, solidarity with the poor, and identification with the powerless becomes the highest value—to be greatly desired. God’s wisdom, personified in Jesus, was quite different from the wisdom of the world, the wisdom represented by the Magi. Like all people, we have to choose which wisdom we will seek and by which wisdom we will live.