By Pat Gohn
“Wine and music gladden the heart, but the love of wisdom is better than both.”
Ah, wine and music! Two of my favorite things! Yet the proverb from Sirach offers much to consider as we examine the love of wisdom.
The sound of a cork pop remains a signal to my heart that life is good. The influence from the French side of my family taught me the beauty of wine on the table. I grew up a wine drinker and to this day, it is a joy to shop for wine, to taste new labels, to pair a special vintage with a good meal. Even the delicate nature of wine glasses signals to us that we must handle wine with care, savor its bouquet, and drink temperately. Every glass of wine was years in the making. It ought be respected and consumed with gratitude.
Wine is an occasion waiting to happen; through it we toast the gift of family, we honor friends, and celebrate milestones. For Catholics, we intuit the wisdom of Jesus in bringing us together for the Eucharistic meal whereby he shares his very self under the guise of bread and wine. That knowledge alone elevates our notion of wine as a gift that must be shared with love.
I also grew up a music lover and a musician. For me, music is a way to sing, to dance, and to pray. Music moves us, not only to sing and dance, but it moves the heart.
I’ve seen the right choice of music change someone’s day. I’ve been privileged to choose and sing music at weddings where the memories of those songs will last a lifetime. Music offers a soundtrack to some of the most important moments of our lives. Music is the language of the heart.
Wine plus music equals a celebration! From simplest gathering to the more elaborate events—whether an intimate gathering for two, a party with friends, or a wedding reception—wine and music are complementary sensory gifts that make life better, joyous even!
Yet, Sirach reminds us, even as we find the gifts of wine and music enjoyable and inspiring … “the love of wisdom is better than both.” Why might this be? One idea is that wine and music fill our senses and are short-lived experiences. They are beautiful and wonderful temporal gifts in their moment, but wisdom is enduring.
As Christians, we always want to strive for higher things, the things of God. A love of wisdom helps us to know God’s priorities. Wisdom is a spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that wisdom enables a person to know the purpose and plan of God.
The Old Testament book of Wisdom offers a very interesting phrase: “the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.” Love of wisdom is not an end in itself. True wisdom points us in the direction of the kingdom of heaven—our destiny in the plan of God.
How can we be wise, and ultimately, more kingdom-minded?
- Pray to God for wisdom. God told King Solomon that he could ask God for anything. Of all the earthly choices before him, Solomon prayed for wisdom and was granted it (See 2 Chronicles 1: 7-12). Let us pray and ask God to fully activate in us the gift of wisdom that we received in Confirmation! May we respect it, honor it, and share it with others, with great love.
- Follow Mary’s lead to Jesus. Our Blessed Mother is Queen of Heaven. She knows all about living in the Kingdom of God. One of her titles is “Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom.” Mary’s wisdom is a language of the heart. It always points to Jesus. Just as when the wine was in short supply at the wedding at Cana, Mary pointed to Jesus, and told the servants: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Jesus’ miracle of the choice wine was prompted by his mother’s wisdom.
May our lives always reflect a love of wisdom! Let us toast the Lord’s goodness and sing our best songs about our God who longs to bring us, ultimately, into his presence! May a love of wisdom make us long for the heavenly banquet in the Kingdom of God!
About the Author:
Pat Gohn is a happily married Catholic mom to three young adults. With a master’s degree in theology, a bachelor’s in communications, and a heart for adult faith formation, Pat writes, speaks, blogs and produces media with an eye toward faith sharing, teaching, and evangelization. Pat hosts the Among Women podcast. She is the author of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, which won a 2014 CPA Award. Learn more at PatGohn.net.