Twentieth Sunday - B - 2018 Proverbs 9: 1-6 Ephesians 5: 15-20 John 6: 51-58.
Living more than 500 years before Jesus' birth, the Greek philosopher Plato developed a fascinating analogy to explain how we live our lives.
We are chained in a cave, facing the rear wall, the cave entrance behind us. The only thing we can see is the shadows that appear on that wall - shadows created by the sun shining behind objects as thy pass in front of the cave. Though we think we are seeing real things, we are only seeing their shadows. The real true world is behind us. That is where, according to Plato, true philosophers come in. They not only unchain us, they also force us to turn around and perceive the real and the true. This is a quest in which everyone is expected to engage..
There are Scripture scholars who hold that John was influenced by Plato. And, if not directly, he certainly shared the philosopher's basic insight. Notice how Jesus speaks about the Eucharistic bread and wine: 'my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink'. Any other food and drink we consume is simply a shadow of the real, true food and drink that Jesus offers. The Risen Jesus is the one who breaks our chains, turns us around and exposes us to the real. Not only does this reality breakthrough in the Eucharist, it also leads us to the true eternal life for which we all long. And Jesus could not be more clear: 'Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day'.
John is not the only biblical writer who tells us that we are not always dealing with 'the real' in our everyday lives. The author of the letter to the Ephesians also goes down that path. In to-day's reading he reminds his readers of that time - and us to-day - that in order to experience the will of God in everyday life they must approach reality from a different perspective from that of non-believers around them.
He expects them to be reflective, watching carefully how they live, valuing each moment. Only by being open to the Spirit working in everyone and everything that they/ us encounter, will they/ we discover the meaning God has placed in each of their/ our lives. Once we have experienced the Risen Christ, we will never again be content with just looking at a shadow-filled wall. Now the author of 'Proverbs' knew nothing about the Risen Christ. But he was also convinced that people of faith saw things that others missed. They accomplished this by developing 'wisdom' - by finding and bringing out patterns in God's behaviour into their own daily lives. True people of faith had to engage in the quest to encounter and be committed to a God who would lead them beyond the point at which most people stopped - a point in which they could break the chains which limited their field of vision.
Are you and I people of faith that each day desire to come out of the shadows and nourish ourselves with Christ. This has to involve going back to what is most genuine, simplest and most authentic in his gospel -
Internalizing his most basic essential attitudes
Igniting in ourselves and others the instinct to live like him
Awakening our consciences, as disciples and followers, to make Christ the centre of our lives.
Without Christians who are nourished by Jesus, our world and the church languishes irredeemably.