Last week’s “Pondering” centered on how our actions reflect our attitudes. Now, just how are those attitudes formed? The mind is processing at every moment all kinds of stimuli, many of which do not touch our consciousness. There would be just too many. For example, your left big toe is constantly firing data, but until you stub it in the dark you are not aware of what it is constantly saying.
Activities form asking, or questions, “What is that noise?” Askings promote answers. Our minds are answering at all times what the askings provoke. Even now your mind might be asking, “What is he saying?” Good question! Over time how we experience “noises” and how we listen to our answers which these “noises” make, will result in our personal attitude. We could have a suspicious or timorous way of responding to “noises”. Things happened to such persons which “things” (actions) forced questions to be asked such as “Is this good for me or dangerous?” Little by little patterns of answering form what we can call “attitude”. What Jesus did in His life was to do and say “things” which invited His listeners and watchers to ask and answer, as we are seeing these August-weekends in John’s Gospel. All who heard and watched did not arrive at the same answers. We are still watching and listening, asking and answering.
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. They 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 their 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”and 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.
In today’s Gospel, we hear the continuation of John’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 five 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.
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: in Him there is plentiful redemption”. Ps. 130, 7
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