“Moses said to YHWH, “But, never in my life have I been a man of eloquence,either before or since you have spoken to your servant.” Ex 4:10
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary,
Time Year B: Be A Wise Loving Diner
We live in a world that honours and values information. Yet our 1st reading from the 'First Testament' Proverbs (9:1-6) - speaks of 'wisdom'. I wonder what comes to your mind as you hear the words 'wisdom'. Wisdom is different from the idea of knowledge. Philosophers tell us there are two types of knowledge. Real knowledge refers to experience, and notional knowledge refers to head knowledge. When young children are told not to touch something because it is hot and it will burn them they have notional knowledge. However, if the child disobeys the parent and touches the hot object and experiences a burn then they now have real knowledge or wisdom. Wisdom is when notional knowledge becomes a lived reality. For the young person with burn they are experiencing 'the begetting of wisdom' - hopefully. Wisdom usually refers to a quest for deep knowledge that will bring happiness and contentment in the face of the mystery of life's hardships and complexity.
For the ancient Israelites, wisdom was taught by their sages. These sages gave practical knowledge about daily living applicable to each and all. That was how they and the Bible understood wisdom. Proverbs depicts wisdom as a very active independent female figure. She has built herself a house, she has prepared her table, she has brought forth her wine and invites her guests to a special banquet - a banquet of wisdom. "Come, eat of my bead and drink of my wine!" Wisdom serves practical life-giving knowledge to her guests - the foolish, the ignorant, men and women - and wants to teach them to discern what is the good and right way to live. Wisdom's nurturing banquet is for all people who seek to life
Last Sunday, in our gospel passage from John (6:41-51) Jesus was presented as the bread come down from heaven. He told his opponents - the complainers - that those drawn by God would be taught by God and then will come to Jesus. This Sunday the gospel discourse continues with a more Eucharistic interpretation. Jesus says he is 'the bread come down from heaven' and, "The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." Jesus openly and honestly declares that his flesh is food and his blood is drink for us. In his language "flesh and blood" represents the whole human being. Applied to Jesus the term has several meanings. It refers to his taking on flesh and blood in the Incarnation. It also stirs up images of the sacrificial animals slaughtered and eaten in the Temple. So, Jesus is both a sacrificial victim and our food and drink. Previously the reference to the bread from heaven had to do with believing in Jesus, the one sent by God. Now, in today's section from the 'Bread of Life' discourse, eternal life comes to us by our feeding on Jesus. Those who "feed on me will have life because of me." Feeding on Jesus already gives us a share in eternal life and a promise of fullness of life when we will be raised from the dead on the last day. Jesus shares eternal life with his Father and we who are drawn to Jesus by the Father, get to share in that life because we feed on the him, the bread of life.
In the sixth chapter of John's gospel, the Eucharist and its effects are explained for us. From the two parts of the 'Bread of Life Discourse' we can say that Christ is present and gives himself to us in a twofold way: in the Word we hear at our celebration and in his presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Our church continues this twofold structure of Word and Sacrament in our worship. It is the basic structure of our Mass. Receiving the flesh and blood of Christ is not a magical rite. The discourse directs us to see the life Jesus gives us by both "believing" and "eating" with faith the sacrament. For the Christian who receives the Eucharist Jesus remains in us and we remain in him. The bread and wine don't last forever, but the life we receive in the life-
giving meal is eternal. John told us at the beginning of chapter six that he worked his 'sign' and gave his teaching at the time of Passover. This reminds us that Jesus is our Passover meal and when we eat and drink at the 'Table of the Lord' we are united with his life and death. We don't demand "signs" as his opponents did. We have a sign
enough for our faith in the broken bread and cup poured out for us.
As we hear in our first reading, that 'wisdom' has spread a table of choice food and drink. We should know that Jesus (God-come-in-the flesh) is the 'wisdom' of God revealed for the healing of the world. It is Jesus 'holy wisdom' himself who call us to 'the holy table of plenty' to dine with him. Our presence at the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign that we have accepted his invitation. We come to Jesus, seeking a wisdom we don't have for ourselves, but need for our daily living. We seek how to be able to be like him in being 'bread broken' and 'wine poured out' for others. Walking the way of unconditional sacrificial love is not natural to us, so we need the power of Christ's wisdom that comes with the gift of himself from the 'table of life'.
Our Eucharistic meal at the altar-table is not a meal for a few and it is not just about our salvation. It is meant to empower all Christians to go into the world with the life of Christ we have received. What we celebrate at 'the Lord' Table' we are to put into practice. We ask for the gift of wisdom to know how to do that in our specific life circumstances. The Eucharist unites us to Christ and so; through him, with him and in him, holy wisdom is given to us. We go from the table of life and love to feed the hungers of God's holy people.