The pastoral theologian, Alice Camille, relates “a story about an area suffering terrible drought. The arid seasons had stretched into years, and the local pastor finally decided to gather the whole community together outside for a special prayer vigil to intercede for rain. The need was so great, people turned out in droves for the service. But only one person, a small boy, brought an umbrella.”
We are at the table of the Lord, again. We are at Mass, again. Did you bring your faith? Every Sunday, we ponder the Word of God. Every Sunday, we eat bread and we drink wine consecrated in the name of Jesus Christ. Did-we-bring-our-faith?
Jesus says, “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not” possess that life-giving-ever-dynamic-divine-life within you.” What God does for us here is a wise model for the rest of the week. Now since we are speaking about wisdom, what should we do this week to live out the liturgy after the liturgy?
We begin by defining the word wisdom. St. Paul means someone who is a “skilled expert,” or, a “person with natural abilities.” A wise Christian therefore is someone who belongs to a community, someone who celebrates the sacraments together with his/her brothers and sisters. A wise Christian is one who celebrates the Eucharist with full and active participation: that is, as we sing and pray fully, God feeds us with word and sacrament. Then, we wise Christians go forth from these doors. We become what we just ate: we establish God’s justice; we shine Christ’s light; we sprinkle Christ’s salt; we share God’s joy as we continue the liturgy after the liturgy.
But there is also an opposite. If a wise person is a skilled expert, a foolish person is sophomoric and juvenile. A foolish Christian is pretentious, a know-it-all. This person does not need God, or the Christian community. St. Paul says that we recognize such persons by their ignorance. They think that their will is God’s will and they lack an understanding of the spiritual life. A foolish person is someone who looks in the mirror and forgets what she/he looks like in that reflection. And, when we forget what we do here every Sunday we too act foolishly. Remember, a number of early Christians abandoned the Gospel because they did not believe that they had to eat the body and drink the blood of Christ. They became their own church.
St. Augustine says that we learn wisdom from patience. Confucius says that we learn wisdom from experience, and often we learn it from our experience of foolishness. Pope Francis says in his latest encyclical, “Laudato, Si” that everyone and everything is related on our earth, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.
So, next time, don’t forget. Bring an umbrella!
Fr. Becket, O.S.B.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time