Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lady Wisdom

(20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, B)

In the first reading today from the book of Proverbs, we encounter one of the great feminine images of God in the Sacred Scriptures, Wisdom, is preparing her table for her dinner guests. This passage we heart today is part of a larger section in which two banquets are being prepared, one by Wisdom and the other by Folly. Whose invitation will we accept? Who will be our hostess in this life, Wisdom or Folly?

We who are Christians know this personification of divine Wisdom, the Lady setting her table, as one image of the second person of the Blessed Trinity. Let’s just review our theology of the Trinity: God is so good, such an overwhelming Love, that from all eternity God overflows into a perfect self-expression. We usually call this first procession of the Blessed Trinity the Word or the Son. It is through this Word that God makes the universe; i.e., ‘God said…and so it happened.’ This is the Word that becomes flesh for us in the humanity of Jesus Christ.

So we are talking about the self-expression of God. Word, Son, Wisdom, there are all ways of talking about the self-communication of God, revealing to us what God is like, what is God’s personality, if you will; God’s style, desire, and will. This is what the written Word of God is for us in the Sacred Scriptures, just as is the birth, teaching, passion and death of the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ; it is all the loving God speaking to us of his desire and will for the good of every creature.

And so it also with minor images from the Sacred Scripture of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, like the woman Wisdom we encounter in Proverbs today. She reveals for us something of what God is like. God is like a woman carefully setting a table and preparing a meal. She calls to her potential guests, inviting them to “forsake foolishness” and come into her wise Presence.

Jesus proclaims that the one who feeds on him will have life, just as he has life from the Father. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” This is the same invitation: to come to the table of Wisdom and receive the food of eternal life. Jesus says that the one who eats his body and drinks his blood has eternal life. Not, will have eternal life, but has eternal life. Now. So in our communion with the humanity of Christ in this Eucharist, the overflowing Love—which is God—comes to live in us in all its eternity.

In one of the quiet prayers of the priest during the Mass, our Holy Communion is called the remedium sempiternum, or as our new Mass translation will call it, a “healing for eternity.” Coming here to this altar, to the table that Wisdom has prepared, we receive our divine medicine, the antidote to the wisdom of this world.

For the wisdom of this world is just cleverness at it best or pride at its worst. The wisdom of this world is about getting for ourselves something that somebody else lacks. But the Wisdom of God is instead about letting go of ourselves that others might live and flourish. This is nothing more than to imitate the self-emptying Incarnation and sorrowful Passion of Jesus Christ, and to imitate and become like Christ is the work of us who are Christ-ians.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Thank you for posting your homilies. I love reading them. They are always instructive for me.