The Italian Way

Proverbs 9: 1-6; Ephesians 5: 15-20; John 6: 51-58

If you’ve ever had the chance to visit Italy, you know that they have mastered the art of eating a meal.  There is no sense of “fast-food” in Italy; you’d even be hard pressed to find a fast food restaurant.  When you sit down for dinner, you have to expect to be there for several hours.  What they have mastered is the art of being present.  You have to be present to those eating with you and even present to the food and wine in order to truly appreciate what it is that you are consuming.  The art of being present to presence.  We can transfer that same idea to what it is that we celebrate here and ask ourselves are we present to those around us; are we truly present to the word, are we present to the meal that we are to share at this table.  Being present is a necessity to truly appreciate what it is that we are doing here.  This is the real deal; no fast food here.

It’s the point that the writer of Proverbs tries to convey through Lady Wisdom today.  Wisdom tells us we have a choice as to which banquet we are going to attend.  We can attend the banquet of folly or the banquet of wisdom.  The banquet of folly would be like going to the McDonalds or some other fast food place.  You go, get what you want, and leave; no need to be present, eat as fast as you can, move on and attend to everything else that you need to do.  It has no impact and bearing on your life.  Lady Wisdom offers an alternative though, the banquet of wisdom, the real deal, but she says more is expected of you if you choose that banquet.  If you come, you will be expected to be present to the others gathered, participate, be aware of what it is we are celebrating, and most important, you have to expect to change.  This meal that Lady Wisdom offers will change your life because you’ll be given a gift that no fast-food will ever offer; she will provide the wisdom necessary for life’s journey because if you’ve allowed yourself to be present to the banquet, your life will be changed.  This banquet is the real deal, the true bread that has come down from heaven.

Paul concurs in his letter to the Ephesians.  He says you are foolish if you are simply here to drink the wine to get drunk.  He warns them of that approach, and again, more is expected of this community.  This is not something you just pull in for, get what you want, and then leave.  No, when you walk out these doors, we are expected to be different and changed because we have received the true bread from heaven, and not only received, but it becomes a part of us every time we consume this Eucharist.

No one is asking us to sit here for hours on end, like you would at a meal in Italy, but at times we do need to change our mindset out of the fast food approach to life, and to begin to ask ourselves if we are truly present to the true presence when we arrive here.  Can we truly appreciate the gift that is being celebrated, the people gathered around us, the word broken open.

We gather here for the banquet of wisdom, expecting our hearts and lives to be changed so that when we walk out these doors, we see the presence of Christ in our lives and world.  We gather here today asking for that grace to be present to the true presence so that we not eat and run and worry about the million other things I need to do today, but I can be here and be changed by what it is I receive and eat, the true bread that comes down from heaven.

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