The opening chapter (verses 1-16) of the Book of Wisdom is one of the longest Scripture passages to be found in the Rite of Penance (RP111).
These words are as rich as they are lengthy and outside of a deep examination of conscience, I’m not sure the whole passage works well at all for the Liturgy of the Word either. Not unless a faith community needs an avalanche of words.
Let’s take the full sixteen verses in three chunks. First, what Scripture scholars tell us is an address to pagan rulers of the planet. An urging today, perhaps, for people who have risen to positions of authority?
Love justice, you who judge the earth;
think of the Lord in goodness,
and seek him in integrity of heart;
Because he is found by those who test him not,
and he manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him.
For perverse counsels separate (people) from God,
and his power, put to the proof, rebukes the foolhardy;
Because into a soul that plots evil
wisdom enters not,
nor does she dwell in a body under debt of sin.
For the holy spirit of discipline flees deceit
and withdraws from senseless counsels
and when unrighteousness occurs it is rebuked.
The negative constructions of verse 2 struck me: God is found by those who don’t test him; God manifests to those who do not disbelieve.
The suggestion is that if one is even somewhat open to God, God will reveal himself. And as long as we’re not trying to solve him, he will be found. Good news for the penitent. No case is hopeless. Great and expansive faith not necessary–just a little. Most importantly, we come before God to reveal ourselves, not to gather useful information for the future and not to replace faith with scientific certainly about the Almighty.
Just this portion–these five opening verses of the Book of Wisdom–are enough for any form of the Sacrament of Penance.