Yesterday the Church celebrated Mary’s being assumed or taken “up” to heaven. She who gave her flesh so the Word might take flesh, is now “flesh-bound when found at best”. Her body was a sacred residence, a temple as she carried her faith by carrying the Word Made Flesh in her body, heart and mind.
We can pray these days with the sacredness of our human flesh as well. The Eucharist is the wonderful gift of his flesh offered for us once, and to us for all times. You and I now carry him in our bodies, hearts, and minds into this world who hungers for his blessing and presence. We can pray with our hands open or one hand holding the other, because these are holy hands with which we extend his holy blessing and receive the blessings of which the Eucharist is also a pledge. We pray to believe all that is contained in Christ’s real presence. We pray to believe and receive all that he says we are by sharing his life and asking it be shared through us with others.
The Book of Proverbs, or the wise sayings of King Solomon, son of King David, begins the section of Hebrew Scripture known as Wisdom Literature. These are a compilation of thoughts expressed in a more memorable manner to guide the lives of the faithful. The first six verses of the first Chapter describe the reasons for keeping these aphorisms alive. Basically, they are for instruction leading to awareness and discernment. They do not necessarily follow a predictable pattern. They call the reader to stop, look into their meaning and reflect on their deeper meaning for being lived.
Wisdom is personified in our First Reading for today’s liturgy. Wisdom has set a table and invites the “simple” and those lacking “understanding” to “turn in here”. The “wine and “food” are the wise sayings, the spirit of the relationship with God which will result in deeper understanding and liveliness.
The “food”, the “wine” are meant to resist the normal manners by which the foolish feed themselves. The verses immediately following our reading nourish the invited guests to the “table of Wisdom” so are urged not to mock those who mock us. Rather rebuke the wise and they will grow wiser. These sayings are meant for those who find the natural inclinations flowing from vengeance, greed, and other base energies, unsatisfying. The “table” is set for those who want to eat more of the goodness of life. They reverse the reader and turn her or his mind towards heartful rather than headful luncheons.
The Second Reading continues this theme in two long sentences. There is a wisdom found in Jesus which if digested, will produce a resistance to the “wine” of selfishness and its effects in foolish living. Rather, the “cup” which Jesus offers renders a peaceful interior which brings life to the full.
We hear the continuation of the Gospel’s account of Jesus’ trying to explain to his Jewish kinsmen that he is more than they know. He is more than the bread which fed their ancestors in the desert. He continues to make “I am” statements about his true identity and his listeners continue their struggling with this new concept.
Jesus, who set the table with six loaves and two fish in order to feed thousands, now sets the table of faith containing a new wine. He invites the “simple” to turn in and eat. He is inviting those who lack understanding to slide their knees under his board and drink more deeply. “Where our feeble senses fail” to convince our hungry minds, Jesus invites us to not be impatient and judge the meal by the first course or even the table setting.
Jesus’ listeners see his flesh and know there is real blood keeping the flesh alive. This is the first course; it is what they see. Jesus is inviting them to wait for the next servings, but they keep clinging to their plates and demanding second helpings, more of the same, keeping everything on the sense level.
The Jews here are hungry for wisdom; they are people of good hearts and minds. They resist their being fooled. They continue to shake their heads as Jesus continues nodding his, insisting that he can give them eternal life through their taking him interiorly, as one does when eating. As long as they argue and grumble, their mouths are filled with that which they are serving; they demand immediate proof and understanding.
With Jesus, everything is an invitation to “come and see.” The murmurers have followed Jesus across the lake after seeing the miraculous distribution. He is urging them into the sacred desert of belief where their ancestors grew deeper in their trust of the One God. They keep tripping over their “feeble senses” and their limited abilities to eat.
“With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.” Ps. 130,
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