Do we still seek wisdom? After all the time we spent in school, after all the lectures and explanations we’ve heard about every possible subject – after the extra time and energy we put into learning about the subjects we actually care about – what’s left? We read all the controversial things about which everyone has an opinion – but is it better to know more or to know less? On the one hand, we can only be happy if we know certain things – specifically, good things. Knowing is an unavoidable part of being human – it is something we start doing before we’re even born. On the other hand, knowing other things can make happiness impossible – at least seemingly. We receive a formal education at school about different subjects: math, science, language, philosophy, art. Life experience also causes us to know more. At a given point, for most people, we accumulate an amount of knowledge in different areas that we deem sufficient. Curiosity wanes in general, though we may still maintain interest in a few select areas, such as wine, sports, technology, history, art, religion, etc.
Today’s readings present one of the major challenges of our life of faith. It is the challenge to continue to listen to God’s Word, to what He is saying. God’s Word is sometimes full of sweetness, and sometimes it produces bitterness and leaves a bad taste in our mouths and in our souls. God has a wonderful message to present to us about love, salvation, and friendship with Him, and He has also has a difficult message about the obstacles that can exist to that friendship. We hear three messages of caution today and are invited to pay attention to how we listen to and receive God’s Word – what He is saying to us.
Today’s Gospel brings us to the beginning of Christ’s apostolic life and ministry. The Third Luminous Mystery is a meditation on this specific moment in the life of Christ. Before Christ’s parables, before Jesus begins to teach us more clearly about His relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit – before He tells His disciples about His coming death and Resurrection – He calls to conversion. In a lot of ways He simply continues the message of John the Baptist, the main thing that changes is the urgency. While it was urgent for the Jews to convert when John the Baptist was preaching, preparing for the imminent arrival of the messiah, it becomes even more imperative when the true identity of Jesus is made known at His Baptism. Now it is no longer, “get ready because the messiah is almost here,” instead it is, “now the messiah is standing right in front of you: behold the Lamb of God.” Jesus says, “repent because the Kingdom of Heaven is now here, present in your midst.” Jesus Himself is the Kingdom of Heaven – those He calls to join Him and who attach themselves to Him enjoy already the peace that only God can give.