Spiritual Intelligence

Sitting before a panel of interviewers (made up of priests) were four young boys who were seeking admittance into a particular minor seminary in Nigeria. The first question from one of the interviewers was: “there were thirty birds on a tree and a hunter shot and killed one how many would be left?” The first boy said “twenty-nine”, the second said “twenty-nine”, the third said “twenty-nine” but the fourth said “none” and quickly gave the reason that “as one is shot and killed the others would fly away!” The interviewers nodded in agreement while remarking that the boy is intelligent. This we call brain   intelligence or if you like high intelligence quotient (IQ).

Three employees came to welcome their boss who just resumed after a fairly long vacation. The boss welcomed them to his office and exchanged warm pleasantries with them. After a brief stay, they rose and went back to their respective offices. However, one of them came back to the boss privately and remarked that she noticed that he (the boss) was not as cheerful and exuberant as he used to be. The boss smiled and said “you are very intelligent to have discovered my emotions even when I tried to mask them; yes I am highly disturbed; my wife was just diagnosed of cancer!” The boss referred to the employee as being intelligent, but this is not brain intelligence; may be heart intelligence but more appropriately in the words of Daniel Goleman “emotional intelligence” (EI).

This one is adapted from Daniel Goleman himself who is considered the father of emotional intelligence. Three twelve-year-olds were heading to a soccer field. Then came two athletic-looking boys walking behind them and snickering at one of the three boys who happened to be chubby and overweight. “So this one is also planning to play soccer?” One of the two boys said rather sarcastically.

Such an inflammatory remark as the one above had all it could take to ignite a fight; what was required was a harsh reaction from our chubby friend. He stopped on his track and after a brief thoughtful silence he said “I am really not good at it but would like to learn!” This was obviously unexpected and the two sarcastic boys suddenly became calm and penitent. One of them managed to say “you are not bad at it either. I will be glad to teach you”. Afterwards, they all headed to the field more socially bonded. One could say that the chubby boy was very intelligent in his reaction. That was not brain intelligence (IQ) nor heart intelligence. For Goleman it was “social intelligence!”

One fateful night, a man had the rare privilege of being asked by another person to make a request of whatever he wishes and it would be granted him. The privilege was a very rare and tempting one. The man in question could choose wealth and it will be his. He could also ask for fame, destruction of his enemies and all that but he made a choice for WISDOM. The man in question was Solomon and God asked him to make the request as we saw in the First Reading (I Kings 3:5.7-12). Solomon’s choice for wisdom was not on account of his brain intelligence, it was not based on emotional intelligence nor social intelligence. What could that kind of intelligence be tied to? The answer is the theme of our reflection. SPIRITUAL INTELLIGENCE.

Spiritual intelligence has to do with our awareness, recognition, acceptance and choice of God’s will. It means making choices that will benefit us not just at the moment but eternally hereafter. It has to do with our option for God. It involves spiritual investment. The parables in the Gospel Reading today (Matt.13:44-52) aptly captures what spiritual intelligence entails:

  • Treasure hidden in a field: Great things are not usually visible on the surface. To get diamond, gold and other precious stones, one must dig deep. Our Lord said that the Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure a man finds in the field and covers up. Then selling everything he has, he buys the field. It will be good to establish here that the man in question did not find the treasure on the surface. He must have done a lot of digging. He may have hired the field or worked as a hired hand. For the sake of the treasure, he was ready to sell everything in order to buy the field.

Surely, we can appreciate the man’s commitment, resilience, forbearance and steadfastness. We can locate this form of aptitude in the Wise Men who came from the east searching for the infant Jesus; the new born King. (Matt.2:1-12).Like the wise men who gave up their time, position, enterprise and their treasures, in order to secure a meeting with our Lord Jesus Christ, the man in the parable did all he could to secure the field because of the treasure therein. In connection with the kingdom of God this can be called Spiritual intelligence; doing all the needful to secure eternal life.


  • The Search For Fine Pearls: While gemstones are found deep beneath the earth’s surface, pearls are formed under the sea. They are hard, lustrous and iridescent objects that grow on oysters that live on the sea bed. They don’t need to be refined like gemstones as they come shimmering and glowing when washed to the shore. Pearls are used in the making of various kinds of jewelleries, ornaments and for various kinds decorations.

From the brief description, we can understand that pearls are valuable. It is thus not surprising that the merchant who found ones of GREAT VALUE sold all he had and bought them. It is important to note here that the ones he bought were of GREAT VALUE. This means there were others that were merely valuable.


 In our lives there are really many things that are or appear to be valuable while other are of great value. Among the few things that are of great value, none can be compared to the kingdom of God. To be attuned to seeking the kingdom of God in the midst of various conflicting kingdoms in our world can only be a product of Spiritual Intelligence.


  • Sorting Out The Good Fish From The Bad: Spiritual Intelligence enables us to differentiate between what is worthwhile and what is worthless. It is instructive to know that not all the fish in the sea are edible. Some are actually very poisonous though they may appear beautiful and appetizing. There is need for us to sit down and sort out from our collections, the things that are helpful and needful for our salvation and those that are not just helpful.

It is most unfortunate that we are often attracted and connected with the things that do not have eternal values. For instance we could stay awake and watch movies for hours but we may not withstand a simply prayer of about five minutes. We enjoy listening to gossips but not to the preaching of the word of God. It takes Spiritual Intelligence to make the right choice as Mary did and was commended by our Lord (Luke 10:42).

Today we are called to examine deeply the operational intelligence at our service. “Is it not useless to be intelligent and yet lack knowledge of God?” “Is it not worthless to have bachelors, Masters and PhDs without a single pass before God?” When God said in the book of Hosea (4:6): “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”, He was not referring to intelligence quotient, He was not talking about emotional nor social intelligence, He was rather referring to spiritual intelligence which is indispensable on our way to God.

The real intelligent man or woman is the individual who like Solomon prefers wisdom which is a key that could open up other doors. The choice for wisdom conforms us to the will of God. The choice for wisdom makes everything to work for our good in the words of St. Paul in the Second Reading (Romans 8:28-30).

As we march into the new week, let us get ourselves conformed to spiritual intelligence which is at the service of divine wisdom. By so doing we will become completely absolved by God and always walk in His ways. Do have a completely blessed Sunday and glorious week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie


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