a priest's musings on the journey

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sermonette: Proper 15B - 20 August 2006

Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:53-59

In Sister Act, Sister Mary Clarence, the Las Vegas Lounge Singer hiding in protective custody in a convent, offers words of surprisingly rich wisdom to the inner city students in her music class: "If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you'd better wake up and pay attention!" That's essentially the same exhortation given by the writer of the Epistle to the Ephesians. The day is evil: society is filled with moral laxity, ethical uncertainty, and shameful, even debaucherous behavior. The Church is infiltrated with false teachers who embrace the character of society and proclaim a message that is antithetical to the teachings of Christ. Thus, the members of the Body of Christ, called to a different way of living, need to be on guard; they need to be awake and watching, lest they be led astray by a false gospel or beguiled by behaviors that are unbecoming for one who has been united to Christ.

The exhortation is to live wisely. A daunting task for many on a good day, except that the necessary Wisdom comes from Christ Himself. Holy Wisdom, who as early as the time of the writing of Ephesians was already identified as Christ, is praised in Proverbs for her generous self-giving, inviting all to her lavish Table, and feeding them with Her very life giving self. The writer of Ephesians echoes this theme, calling the members of Christs Body to be drunk on the Spirit of Sophia instead of being drunk with wine: to be filled with the Spirit, as the disciples were on the Day of Pentecost, which produces Wisdom, instead of being filled by things of the world, which produce foolishness. Inebriating Wisdom draws us into real living; it leads us towards Christ-like living; it sustains us into the very life of God. Intoxicating Folly directs us towards false living; it tempts us to adopt a lifestyle of self-centeredness, lustful pleasure and greed; it threatens to cut us off, even remove us from the life of God. If we hope to abide in Christ, as St John encourages us to do, then we must be on guard: vigilant, alert, and careful to follow Wisdom's path.

Christ proclaimed the very message that the Epistle writer reiterated. We are invited by the Spirit to be a part of the life of God. We are incorporated into the Divine life by the graciousness of God Himself, and we are sustained and matured in the Divine life by the self-offering of the very life giving Body and Blood of God. In fact, Christ proclaims, unless we are nourished by His Body and Blood, we will die. But, as we are fed by the true Bread of Heaven, we are transformed to become like Christ- we learn the mind of Christ and grow in Wisdom as we take into ourselves the Being of Christ. Over time the way we see the world changes; the way we understand who we are changes; the way we perceive others changes. We see reality as it really is: as it is seen and known by Christ. We learn to live in God's true reality; we learn to recognize the Wisdom of God, revealed fully to us in Jesus Christ. We learn to reject the invitation of Folly to become drunk on temporal pleasures that will not sustain us and which will only pull us away from the Source of Life. We learn to be guided by God's Wisdom into a life of self-giving other-centeredness and compassion; into a life that is united and flows from the very life of God.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 8:18 AM


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