Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 19 August 2012
Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34:2-7; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
How is your soul being nourished? Today’s readings invite us to feast on that which gives us life. In Proverbs 9, Wisdom issues an invitation to partake of her life-giving banquet. Later on in the same chapter, Folly will issue a similar invitation, though she offers stolen water and food eaten in secret. The sages don’t present an alternative between eating and not eating. Their question is more: “Whose invitation are you responding to?” Our inner being is being fed by something, our imaginations and willing and doing are being shaped one way or another. Is it in the way that leads to life?
The psalmist’s soul is shaped by thanksgiving, retelling his or her story in terms of the loving faithfulness of God who saved them in a time of crisis. Those who pray this psalm from the heart have tasted the Lord’s goodness and invite others to do the same. The metaphor of a feast is also lurking in Paul’s words to the Ephesians, as he exhorts them not to be drunk on wine, but to be filled with the Spirit. Those who are filled with the Spirit will overflow with thanksgiving.
Paul warns his listeners to live not as foolish persons, but as wise. He is presenting them with the same choice that we find in Proverbs 9 – the choice between Wisdom and Folly’s feasts. But as his reference to the Spirit makes clear, this is not just a matter of setting one’s will in one direction or the other, choosing to act foolishly or wisely. It is about how we think and what we know, but it is also about what nourishes and shapes our soul.
Jesus issues his invitation in very graphic terms that shock his hearers. He isn’t just inviting them to a meal he has prepared, asking them to follow his teachings. As wisdom incarnate, he offers himself. He invites them, and us, to experience him in a way that doesn’t just set a good example for us, but which nourishes our souls, which transforms our very being. The divine life incarnate in Jesus Christ is offered to us. There is real food for our souls.