The Bible is full of wonderful quotes, parables, teachings, etc. Most of us know them when we hear them. But that is only the supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit known as Knowledge. Knowing something is usually a good start, but it should never be the endpoint. Beyond the gift of Knowledge are the gifts of Understanding and Wisdom.
The supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit known as Understanding means that we actually understand the true meaning of the phrase. For instance, In John 6:48-58, Jesus says that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink, and that we must eat it to have eternal life. To understand fully what he meant, one must first study the early Church Fathers, the teaching of the Church, and the rest of the bible. To do that leads one to come to the conclusion that Jesus was NOT speaking here metaphorically or in parables, but that he wanted us physically to consume his true Eucharistic Flesh in sacramental form (more on that later).
Once we truly understand the meaning of Jesus’ sayings, then the supernatural gift of Wisdom should be applied. The gift of Wisdom means that we act like we really believe it, and we apply it to our lives as much as possible. The alternative is just to go about our daily business as if it’s really no big deal!
The spiritual gifts of Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom are the supports of a spiritual three legged stool that allows us to know what Jesus said, what He really meant, and how we should apply it to our lives. So let’s now take a look at some other biblical phrases and examine our response to them.
Be Anxious for Nothing
This command of Jesus Himself, from Matthew 6:25, is one that a lot of us should take more seriously. Whereas depression is usually sadness about the past or a giving-up about a present problem, anxiety is excessive worrying about the future. All of us have experienced this at some point in our lives, whether it’s worrying about paying the bills, our unemployment, the choices some of our family members are going to make, or even our eternal salvation. But if we truly understand that Jesus Christ is in total control of everything, and that He wants the absolute best for us, then we shouldn’t worry at all. The saying to remember in these situations is from the wisdom of Divine Mercy ‒ “Jesus, I trust in you.” Once one recalls that, then praying to the Holy Spirit to really achieve total trust in God is the recommendation to apply it wisely to our lives. And certainly, along with prayer, a healthy diet and exercise plan certainly alleviate anxiety!
Love Your Enemies
This command of Jesus, from Matthew 5:43-48, is a very hard one to follow. But it is so necessary for salvation. Think about it ‒ God will allow rapists and murderers into heaven if they repent, but not their victims, if the victims do not repent of their unforgiveness towards the people who violated them. That is a very sobering thought. Again, lots of prayer to the Holy Spirit to let go of past hurts is the answer. And while it may be tough to do this, it is important to understand that love means wanting the absolute best for someone, and that means heaven. So at the very least we can pray for our enemies to go to heaven, at the same time we are praying to let go of the hurt. Loving your enemy is definitely faith in action. After all, if St. John Paul II could forgive his assassin, who shot him, then we should be able to forgive our enemies as well. If we don’t even try, then we do not have the spiritual gift of Wisdom.
Looking at Someone With Lust
In Matthew 5:28, Jesus says that to even look upon a woman with lust is adultery in one’s heart. With the availability of porn today at the click of a mouse, or on a smartphone, this is so easy to do. We should know, however, that naked people and the devil go together. First, we have the example of the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were naked, and the devil enticed them to disobey God. Then, we have the story of the naked demoniac that was cured by Jesus in Luke 8:26-33. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said that the three telltale signs of the diabolic are split personalities, love of nudity, and violence. So many people today are in love with nudity, as though it’s okay to look upon it. But Jesus said no. The person with the gift of Wisdom will flee from all impurity, and never even joke about it, because the spirit of lust can take over one’s entire soul in a heartbeat, which is one of the fastest ways to hell. The wise person will start saying Hail Mary’s at the first temptation to lust. If one does fall, a good confession will help to alleviate the urges.
Give To All Who Ask
This comes from Luke 6:30. There seems to be an abundance of people with their hands out these days. At major intersections all over America, people are begging for money and food. Charities are quick to latch on to your email and home addresses begging for alms. So what are we to do? Well, for starters, have an open mind, an open heart, and an open wallet. We don’t have to give away our life savings to these mendicants, but most of us should be able to afford to give $10 or so to just about everyone. The bible says that God loves a cheerful giver, so try to be one! On your deathbed, you will not regret having given away lots of money to the poor. St. Paul says that we have entertained angels unaware in Hebrews 13:2, so who knows? The beggar could actually be your guardian angel testing you!
Forgiveness from God as You Forgive Others
In the Lord’s prayer, we ask God to forgive us our sins AS we forgive other people their sins against us. So this prayer can either be a blessing for us, or a curse on us. If we forgive everyone from the heart for their sins against us, then we don’t have to worry about entering heaven. On the other hand, if, like I heard one man say, “I will not forget what he did, nor will I forgive him,” then we are basically telling God to send us to hell. The man with Wisdom will choose wisely here, and ask God to help him with any struggles he may have against forgiving others. Someone once said that not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and then waiting for our enemy to die! We also have Matthew 21:18-35 and Mark 11: 24-25 in the bible as well to remind us of this very important REQUIREMENT of Christianity.
The Last Will Be First
This comes from Luke 13:30. Here Jesus is telling us that the meek and the humble and the lowly here on earth will have the highest spots in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who are proud and egocentric down here may not even make it to heaven, but instead, suffer eternal fire. The truly wise person will understand that conquering ego is a 24/7/365 effort, and that the more ego there is in a person’s head, the less room there is for Jesus. Only by totally leaning on Christ and obeying His teachings will any of us ever make it to heaven. So the wisest of us should start to put away our pride (the devil’s great sin), and immediately submit to the will of God through prayer, self-sacrifice, and taking advantage of the grace-filled sacraments. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; rather, it is thinking of yourself less, while putting Jesus first in your life, everyone else second, and yourself last. Asking the most humble of all women, our Mother Mary, for help here, is also a truly wise thing to do.
The Rich and the Eye of the Needle
In Mark 10:25, Jesus says that it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it will be for a rich man to enter heaven. The apostles were stunned when they heard this, because Jesus just turned a belief system of the Old Testament (that people were blessed by God financially because of their righteousness) upside down. Jesus told the rich young man in Mark 10:17-31 that if he wished to be perfect, he should sell all of his property, give it to the poor, and then come and follow him. In other words, following Jesus should take priority over his estate, his lifestyle, and his family. The reason that wealth makes it so hard to enter heaven is because so many people put all of their faith in their money. “I’m rich,” they think, “who needs God?” But this kind of thinking fails miserably on the day of their heart attack, or fatal car wreck, or of their murder. Most people never even think about dying. Instead, they think that the way things are now is the way that they will always be. But a quick trip through the graveyard while reading the tombstones of the deceased should be an incentive to believe otherwise. Money is indeed a necessity in this life; we can’t live without it. But it does become a problem when the money starts to own us, instead of our owning the money. People with too much money, and therefore too much idle time on their hands, tend to think and do really dumb things, like taking drugs, or seeking illicit sexual pleasures. It’s best to do good with excess money, like giving it to the poor. That way, its evil influence won’t affect us, and it will help those who most need it. And on your deathbed, you certainly won’t regret having helped the poor.
Eating the Flesh of Jesus Christ and Drinking His Blood
In John 6, Jesus tells us that He is the bread of life, and we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. In other words, just as mankind fell by eating forbidden fruit from a tree that looked like a tree of life, just so, mankind is raised up by eating divine food from heaven from a tree that looks like a tree of death (the cross). The true understanding of John 6:48-58 is that Jesus is telling us that we must “trogos” (a Greek verb meaning to munch or to gnaw on) His flesh to gain heaven. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:27 that to eat His flesh unworthily is to profane His body. Holy communion with the Lord cannot be done through “symbolism,” like so many people mistakenly think. One cannot commune with nature by sitting around plastic plants in a doctor’s office. A plastic banana does not give real nourishment like a real banana does; it’s only a symbol of a real banana. To do “this in remembrance of me” is much more than just an intellectual recalling of a past event. The Greek word “anamnesis” is used for remembrance, and in the Old Testament, that word meant a memorial sacrifice, which is what the Eucharist truly is – The blood of the New Covenant, the true blood of Jesus Christ.
And while we can’t see the real blood or taste it (who would drink it if we could!), we walk by faith, and not by sight, when it comes to truly believing in the REAL blood of Jesus saving us. No longer do we have to be begotten by an ancestor of Jesus to be related to Him, because after Communion (to be one with), we now have the blood of Christ flowing in our veins!