Proverbs 9: 1-6; Eph 5: 15-20; John 6: 51-58
There is that old Cherokee legend of the grandfather who speaks to his grandson about the fight of the two wolves that is taking place within him. There is the evil one of anger, envy, guilt, shame, self-pity, resentment and whatever else you would add. Then there is the other of love, joy, serenity, freedom, peace, and the likes. The grandson, as we all might do, asks the question of which would win. The grandfather, of great wisdom, simply states, the one you feed.
Our readings these past weeks have been about eating and feeding in many different ways as Jesus continues this confrontation with the Pharisees in the synagogue. I was mindful of that image of the Cherokee legend as I read this gospel this weekend and this ongoing struggle between Jesus and the pharisees. We’re often too quick to read into our eucharistic theology when we read these gospel passages, which have a whole lot more going on in them than what we have made them to be!
I mentioned a few months ago some of the symbolism, such as the synagogue or church being symbolic of our own sacred space within, our heart and soul. And in there, like the legend, we too have this fight going on, often times feeding the wrong one. There is even two ways of eating in this passage as we have been hearing. There is Jesus feeding with what gives life and then there is that useless chatter and quarreling going on among the pharisees, not creating much other than more fear and anxiety in their own lives and those they try to inflict it upon, only boxing themselves further into what they can’t see about themselves. There, in the midst of the story as we have been hearing, is the fighting of the two wolves; which do we choose?
Paul uses similar language to become a wise rather than foolish person. To live the will of the Lord, he says, we must choose to understand this fight within ourselves in order to reconcile and to choose that which gives life. The write of Proverbs as we hear in the first reading is writing in comparison to two feasts. There is the great feast that we hear today, which gives great joy and life, a meal rooted in wisdom compared to the one that leads to greater darkness and despair. I had read one commentary likening them to choosing between sanity and insanity. Isn’t that useless chatter in our own minds and hearts seem somewhat insane at times? Yet, it’s what gets fed and it’s what is often feeding us; more darkness leads to greater darkness.
When we finally, hopefully, get to that point in our lives where we become aware of the fight and no longer have to blame like the pharisees and the pharisee within ourselves, then the choice becomes much more obvious. It gets harder and harder to choose that voice that leads to greater darkness and despair in our lives because we have seen and tasted the one that gives eternal life, the true bread from heaven. So we are left with that choice today in our lives. What are we feeding and what is being fed; do we continue to choose the negative within ourselves and that which we often absorb around us, only, at times, affirming our own self-pity and lack of worth, boxing ourselves in like the pharisees? Which voice are we feeding and in turn, what are we allowing ourselves to be fed?