Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Gift and Liturgical Experience of Wisdom: 32nd Week of the Liturgical Year, November 6-12, 2011

Wisdom chapters 1-19; Luke, chapters 17-18

This week’s readings are loaded! The theme of them all, New Testament as well as Old — and of the Rite of Communion, on which Immersed in Christ focuses us during this season—is “wisdom.” But we have to keep in mind what “wisdom” is. It is defined both as “the habit of seeing everything in the light of our last end,” and as the gift of the Holy Spirit that is the logical consequence of that: “the taste for spiritual things.”

It figures: if we really see everything we do, everything we use, buy, seek and experience, in the “light of our last end,” we will have a “taste” for, a desire for whatever leads us to that; i.e. for “spiritual” things. Things like prayer, Scripture reading, Mass, the sacraments, the mysteries of our Baptismal consecration (three of them, remember?), whatever makes us more aware of the mystery of Christ’s presence in ourselves and others, and of the real value and significance of the time we have to work with on earth.

The “end time” is the special focus of the Rite of Communion. If we understand what we are celebrating during this part of the liturgy, we will see how it gives us--and is an experience of--wisdom.

Communion is not just a private, one-on-one experience of receiving Jesus into our bodies and souls. It is a communal experience. The “Bread of Life,” the Bread of heaven, is only served at a communal meal: the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” We receive Christ in communion with others or we don’t receive him. That says already that we can only receive Communion if we accept the condition of total, universal forgiveness and reconciliation that is a characteristic of the “peace and unity of the Kingdom.”

That is the “end time,” the “last end” on which the Rite of Communion focuses us, and which the Gift of Wisdom keeps us conscious of in every choice we make while interacting with the created reality of this world. We evaluate every pleasure, every joy held out to us by asking how it fits, how it prepares us for the total joy of heaven. We deal with every suffering, every loss, trial and challenge, by placing it in the perspective of the “end time,” when “every tear will be wiped away.” More mystically (that is, with more awareness of the mystery of our life as members of the body of Christ on earth), we see how all that we do and suffer here and now, whether through afflictions, hard work, frustrations or other emotional distress, is a participation in the redemptive suffering of Jesus. With Saint Paul, we see that “in our flesh we are completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.” That is the gift of wisdom.

The Rite of Communion is inseparable from the Eucharistic Prayer, when we celebrate and make present the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Seeing Communion in the light of the cross helps us to see our crosses in the light of the communion to which they lead: the full and glorious communion with God and others in the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.”

Keep this in mind as you read the readings and the Immersed in Christ reflections on them this week.

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