The Book of Wisdom is attributed to one of the greatest rulers of Israel, Solomon. In reality it was written by a Jewish theologian around the year 31BC. He was a teacher in Alexandria, Egypt, a city of 1 million people. It was an international port; a meeting place of East and West. Alexandria was the center of intellectual learning of the Greek world. It was like Harvard and Oxford combined into one.
People from all over the world came to Alexandria to get a top notch education. In the midst of this culture were the Jews, many who were suffering a crisis of faith. At the university they found themselves immersed in ideas gathered from their studies, personal experiences, contacts reshaped their minds and gave them a new world view that replaced their former outlook on life. Their religious understanding did not keep pace with this intellectual development.
Their religious beliefs were looked upon by others as alien to sound reason even bordering on superstition. Yes, because of their exposure, many Jews abandoned their faith and were absorbed into the culture of the time. They became pragmatists, atheists or worshipped false gods.
The purpose of the Book of Wisdom was to present the faith in such a way that people could see the interaction of human reason and divine revelation. Such interaction allows God's word to nourish the mind and guides one to the fullness of truth. In other words faith illuminates understanding. The author wanted to confront public opinion that considered traditional Judaism as primitive, unsophisticated and overly moralistic. This opinion sometimes manifested itself in prejudice and discrimination against the Jewish believers.
Our lesson from Wisdom teaches that God is powerful enough to do anything He wants. But He is also merciful to all who come to Him. His mercy gives us time to repent and overlooks our sins. This God of the Universe reminds us of what we are doing, to abandoned our ways and put our trust in Him.
Later on in the 14th and 15th chapter the author tells us that alienation from the living God is the root cause of social disintegration. When people venerate anything other that the true God, they lose sight of their dignity and submit to something inferior. Their sense of holiness is lost that might call them to redemption and to a higher life with God.
What Wisdom reveals and what Jesus taught Zacchaeus was that Eternal Life consists in personal knowledge of the living God. Wisdom, chapter 15 says this: "To know God is indeed a perfect virtue, and to know his power is the root of immortality. We know God by experiencing mercy." through the gift of repentance." Zacchaeus discovered this after climbing down the sycamore tree.
The Book of Wisdom and all of Scripture leads to Christ, the source and center of the Father's plan for all creation. Zacchaeus came to this understanding:" that in the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was the source of life and this life brought light to people.that in the fullness of time the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." As people then and now read and experience the Word of God, they are amazed by the faithfulness of God and come to appreciate the present hour as a crucial time of grace and revelation.
The letter to the Hebrews from the New Testament says this:
At many moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the ages." (Heb. 1:1-2)
God-in-Christ spoke to Zacchaeus. He affirmed him and saved him who was lost. Following in the footsteps of Jesus, by remaining close to Him, let us seek out those who have climbed their own "sycamore tree" looking for love and meaning in all the wrong places but which can only be found in Jesus. May they see Jesus in us so that He may stay at their house forever.