Daily Reflection
August 20th, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalms 34:2-3, 10-15
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, on the twentieth day of the month, in the year 2000, perhaps it is a sign.  Undoubtedly, it is just a wonderful and not-to-be-repeated coincidence. 

The readings, which lead us to celebrate the Eucharist today, continue the display of God’s urgent love to attract us and nourish us.

The First Reading from Proverbs pictures Wisdom as setting up somewhat of a “Divine Drive-in.”  She has set up Her stand with wonderful things to eat and drink.  A “golden arch” presents the invitation, “Let whoever is simple turn in here.”  On the menu-board it reads, “Eat my food and drink of the wine I have mixed.”  Over the intercom She announces, “Forsake foolishness that you may live;” and while telling you to go to the next window, she gently urges you also to, “advance in the way of understanding.” 

Today’s Second Reading picks up this same theme of living, “not as foolish persons but as wise.” The author of this epistle urges us to the above-mentioned simplicity, which thirsts for truth and understanding rather than those things, which assist in our avoiding the realities of living.

The Gospel continues the struggle between the faithful Jews and Jesus Who is presenting Himself as a continuation of God’s love for them.  We who listen to His words are called also to an openness of mind and spirit that allows His wisdom to be our food and His Spirit to be our drink.

There is a psychological description of a human activity, which is called, “Approach-Avoidance.”  We also call it, “Come-Here, Go-Away.”  We may know people who at times come close to us, but run away when they or we get too close.  We may experience this with God, Jesus, Church and with our very selves as well.

Jesus is always inviting us to come very close to His truth and our own.  Both of these are dangerous; intimacy is destructive of our defenses.  In all three readings today there are images of drinking.  In the Second Reading, drinking to excess leads to irreverent abuse.  In the First reading and the Gospel, drinking leads to a wisdom and real living.

This is not meant to be an AA promotion, though it may appear that way at first reading.  The difference between being wise and being foolish has to do with whether one wishes to “approach” or “avoid” real life and spiritual growth.  Simplicity is not naiveté but an experience of unity between ourselves and within ourselves.  Jesus offers this union to us in the Eucharist, in which we are made one with Him and through Him we are made whole and holy.   The wisdom, which this unity provides through such intimacy, is dangerous as well and might call us to an “avoidance” stance towards the life to which He calls us.

Getting “drunk on wine” or getting out of touch with our truth and the truths around us, prevents us from being “filled with the spirit,” and especially, “giving thanks always and for everything.”  Avoidance, either through forms of physical narcoticisation, or emotional distancing, inevitably leads to our avoiding our growing into our dignity as humans and as His Body.

Jesus has His own menu for what is good for us to eat and drink.  As with any drive-in restaurant, we can pass by or pull in.  As we pull into our place in line at the Eucharist today, we hear the offerings of face-to-face intimacy with God, ourselves and with the truths which make up our lives.  We are called to an “Approach-Approach” life style.  We approach the “Bread of Life” that we may extend the “Bread of life” to the beloved of Christ, His sisters and brothers.  The “Come-Here Go-Away” is gracefully applicable with Jesus in the Eucharist.  He does the inviting to come and eat.  He then sends us away to live that by which we have been fed and drunk.

“Did somebody say, Jesus?” 

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