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Catholic Culture Solidarity

The quest for wisdom (or) When will we ever learn?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 24, 2021

The powers of mankind are both immense and confusing. We can mine for silver, discover hidden recesses of gold, and refine both. We take iron out of the earth, and smelt copper from its ore. We are capable of dispelling darkness, and we search out to the farthest point all that exists in the deepest darkness.

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We can open shafts in valleys or windows into space, far away from where we live, in places unknown by travelers. Our explorers, machines and masters of commerce plumb precipitous chasms, whether above or below, without fear.

Here on earth we grow crops for our daily bread, yet beneath the surface there is molten fire. The stones themselves are the home of sapphires and gold dust. Along those paths, no bird of prey has ever explored. The falcon’s eye has not seen it. The beasts have not trodden it, not even the lion!

Only man puts his hands to the flinty rock, and overturns mountains by their roots. He cuts channels through the rocks, and his eye sees every precious thing. He dams streams to a mere trickle, and every hidden thing he brings to light.

But where shall we find wisdom? Where do we locate understanding?

We do not know the way to wisdom. It does not seem to be found in the land of the living. If we explore the deep, the deep replies, “It is not in me”, and the sea says the exact same thing.

Understanding cannot be purchased with gold; silver cannot be weighed as its price. It cannot be valued in precious onyx or sapphire. Gold cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels. We need not even mention coral or crystal—the price of wisdom is beyond pearls! The finest topaz cannot compare with it; it cannot be valued even with the rarest of jewels set in gold.

How, then, do we come to wisdom? And again, where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all the living, concealed from the sharp-eyed birds of the air. Even death and the devil can say only, “We have heard a rumor of it!”

God alone understands the way to wisdom; He knows its place. He alone looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens. When He gave to the wind its pressure and power, and meted out the waters to His own measure; when He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning and the thunder; then He saw it and declared it; he established it, and brought it to light.

And He declared it to us: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”


This is my own paraphrase of chapter 28 of the Book of Job in the Old Testament, written approximately two thousand five hundred years ago. It is amazing how little has changed since that time when it comes to wisdom—except for those who recognize the Word and the Wisdom of God, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: mary_conces3421 - Aug. 26, 2021 10:17 PM ET USA

    Amen