Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

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1 Corinthians 1:18-25

This passage is surprising, paradoxical, difficult. We can allow it to explain itself through some questions it asks us.

1. What is human wisdom? Could it perhaps be defined as the art of living well in order to be happy? Then folly would mean heading towards failure and unhappiness. Still, we need to know where happiness is found, and discover that realistically speaking it is not possible to be happy all alone, without others.

2. Why does Saint Paul speak so negatively about this wisdom? Because it was in the name of human wisdom that Jesus was condemned to death: he disturbed the established order, called social hierarchies into question, forced people to change their idea of God. He appeared to be a politically dangerous fool, a madman.

3. Where then is true wisdom to be found? Saint Paul answers: in the language of the cross. Language here means that we have acquired some distance on this event and refers, beyond the mere fact of the cross, to its meaning in the context of Jesus’ life and then in the light of his resurrection, all this situated in the overarching plan of God’s covenant with us.

4. Why is the cross—the worst failure, and utter folly, since Jesus really did nothing to escape it—the language of God’s wisdom? Because it reveals the power of love and it shows how far Jesus’ gift of his life goes. It was the rejection of God by the “wise”, and God turned it into total solidarity with the “fools” that we are. It was the condemnation of Jesus for blasphemy, and Jesus turned it into the forgiveness of those who crucified him and the return of human beings to God.

5. What will we do so that the language of the cross may become more and more the criterion of our human wisdom? So that our idea of happiness may be enlightened by the folly of Jesus’ love? So that our art of living well may conform to that total gift of self that is the life—and the death—of Jesus?

Other bible meditations:

Last updated: 1 February 2024