Today’s readings: Proverbs 9, 1-6; Ephesians 5, 15-20; John 6, 51-58.
The challenge for Christians living today is how to rise to the occasion without giving in to temptations of pessimism or apocalyptic reading of whatever surrounds us. At every juncture of history these were real temptations, and believers have always been very prone to superficial reading of the times.
This is precisely what St Paul speaks about in Ephesians when he writes: “This may be a wicked age, but your lives should redeem it”. On a very positive note, St Paul exhorts his community not to miss out on the golden opportunities that present themselves in life.
There are moments in life which we normally consider as opportune. ‘Opportune’ means a favourable time, an opportunity to grasp, something not to be missed.
From a faith perspective, it is a moment of grace. It is a time not to miss, but at the same time which can so easily be missed.
In today’s readings, the personification of wisdom in Proverbs is coupled with Jesus himself who in John’s classic discourse in chapter six is presented as the guarantee of a life that never ends, or as the remedy against all that kills in us the spirit of true life.
Wisdom cannot be confused with knowledge, which we acquire and which makes us believe we can explain or dominate all that life is about. Wisdom is something we need to aspire to; it comes from above, it is not an achievement.
There is a certain basic stupidity in our lives in the way we approach whatever we go through. At times this lends itself to the presumption of knowing it all. Presumption kills the spirit in us, it leaves no opening towards redemption.
Presumption impoverishes the spirit, because the moment we are led to believe that we have conquered the world, we come to realise that we ourselves have rather been conquered and enslaved.
St Paul in Ephesians speaks about dissipation and being thoughtless or stupid, but also about the possibility of redeeming the times we live in.
Wisdom enables us to have foresight, to see in depth, not superficially.
The gospel today speaks of a wisdom that is somewhat different from that of the desert fathers who entered into solitude and retirement, who lived in hermitages in search of enlightenment.
The gospel today, in the words of Jesus as daily and spiritual nourishment, suggests a different wisdom that we need daily, that makes us grasp the moment we live in.
It is the enlightenment that comes our way. It is the revelation of God’s wisdom to children and those who are like children; it is the wisdom that seeks out the poor andmarginalised in the strategic points of the city.
It is the wisdom that comes down from heaven and that makes life sustainable. The Jews kept arguing about this without even noticing that they were missing the whole point.
That was the sin of the Jews and that is our sin whenever, like the Jews, we miss God’s wisdom in time, in the here and now when we most need to be enlightened.
It’s always like crucifying Jesus to save religion, the same story repeating itself to this day.
To have this wisdom, to be enlightened by God’s grace, is what makes life sustainable. And that is what first and foremost we needand what Jesus is speaking about in this gospel.
Unfortunately, along the way we always fall prey to stupidity and gratify ourselves with easy substitutes.
Sandra Schneiders, who authored numerous books on spirituality, has written that “the theology which undergirded our spirituality in the past cannot be resuscitated, and intelligent people cannot live a spirituality which is theologically bootless. We are, to a large extent, running on theological empty”.
Substitutes do not nourish us. We badly need to go straight to the point where our spiritual nourishmentis concerned.