Sunday, August 16, 2015

Wisdom and Ignorance

This week we are on the fourth of the five Sunday's in which we read the Bread of Life Discourse (Jn 6). This week Jesus comes right out and says it,

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.(Jn 6:53)

And yet I sure that there are Christians sitting even in Catholic Churches who don't really believe that when they are going to communion they are actually receiving the body and blood of Christ. Even though Jesus goes on to say,

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

It seems to me there is a reason the Church put together this gospel with two other readings about wisdom In the second reading we have Saint Paul exhorting us not to live as foolish people but as wise. And in the firs t reading Wisdom is a woman who has prepared a banquet. It's worth noting that wisdom is always portrayed as a woman.

But how do we find wisdom?

St. Paul gives us a clue when he tells us

do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord

I just had another birthday, and I notice that with each birthday I become more ignorant. When I was in my 20's if you had called me ignorant I would have been ready to fight Now I know that ignorance and wisdom go hand in hand. Notice who Wisdom invites to the banquet,

To the one who lacks understanding, she says, “Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!

The Church requires that we fast for at least one hour before mass and yes there is good reason.

To be ignorant is to lack knowledge, lack understanding. Wisdom invites the ignorant because they know they lack something. When a person in humility can say,"I am ignorant", there is an emptiness that can be filled.

The fool on the other hand thinks they already know. Fools are never ignorant, they know everything. There is no need for them to come to the banquet; they are already full, full of themselves, full of what they think they know.

The wise person is always hungry, because they know how little they know.

When I was young and foolish, I thought the Catholic Church's rules were silly, because I didn't understand them. And any rule that didn't make sense to me was stupid. That is a fool.

When I began down the road to wisdom I realized there is the Church's 2000 years of theology on the one hand and my little brain on the other. Which is more likely to be correct?

If you notice both the first and second readings acknowledge that we never reach full understanding in this life. St. Paul exhorts us to "try to understand" and proverbs invites us to "advance in the way of understanding." True understanding will only come in the next life, but in this life we can advance along the road, but only when we claim our ignorance.

Perhap there are things in the Church's teaching you doubt, including the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Doubt is ok. Doubt can lead us down the road to understanding. Like the father in Mark 9, when we feel the temptation to deny what the Chuch has taught for centuries we must exclaim

I do believe, help my unbelief