Let’s not be educated fools

School has begun … or soon will begin … all over America.  Students have returned for a new year of studies.  Parents have expectations that their children will learn.  Teachers are committed to preparing students for the future.  Over the course of the year there will be various forms of testing to determine what students have learned … what lessons have been taught … how much progress has been made.  Each student begins the year with a certain “base-line of knowledge” against which learning will be measured at a later date.

Yes knowledge — in math, social studies, and language arts.  How much “more” will students know in May, 2013 –as compared to today?  How much math have they learned?  How much better are they in language arts?  How much more do they know about the world or the workings of the human body …. knowledge … facts, figures, rules, methods, procedures, and process.

If only WISDOM could be measured by a standardized test or an essay!

The reading from the Book of Proverbs [9:1-6] issues an invitation:  “Let whoever is simple turn in here; to the one who lacks understanding, she says, Come, eat of my food …”

and also a challenge . . . . “Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.”

Most of us are blessed with a good education.  Most of us are privileged to have studied and to have been taught in above average schools.  Most of us would never be called a “dummy”.  At the same time, each of us would have to admit, that we have acted quite foolishly at times … we have made choices and made decisions that we regret.  Our human knowledge and our education have not prevented us from acting against our best interest.

Most of us, too, would know someone … a family member, a church-member, a community ‘leader’ …. who never had the chance for a formal education … maybe someone who never made it past the 8th grade ……. who is oh so wise.  What these folks lack in “learning”, they make up for with good old common sense …. and a deeper sense of understanding that reflects true wisdom.  These people know what life is all about and what is really important.

And at the same time we all know people with degrees from great schools, plaques and awards on the wall …..who seem to know NOTHING about life and NOTHING ABOUT relationships …. these people have made money and gained prestige, but they are unhappy and lonely.  yes … the educated fools.

Have we learned from what we observed?  Does what we ‘know’ translate into wisdom?  At some point in life, our parents spoke to us with these or similar words — “don’t get too smart for your own britches.”

While the educated leaders of Jesus’ time quarreled among themselves about what Jesus’ words meant [John 6:51-58], those who could simply hear his words and trust in him, came to KNOW that he [1] came down from heaven  [2] he was/is the bread of life and [3] those who come to him [eat] will live forever.

We all know that some things really are too good to be true …. and we need to ask some questions and check things out …. and at the same time, there are some things that we must simply accept in faith …. and our knowledge and education can get in the way … we want proof, we want things to sound reasonable — and we miss the whole point of faith.  We act the fool, look like the fool, and feel like the fool.  We make things more complicated than God intends them to be.

In the Gospel, Jesus is speaking simply and plainly about our eating his flesh and drinking his blood.  “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”  Plain and simple!

“The body of Christ offered to Christians in consecrated bread and wine is not something but someone.  In the Eucharist Christ is present not as an ‘object’ to be admired but as a person to be encountered.” (Nathan Mitchell)

Those who are wise do not try to explain the miracle of transubstantiation — they do not worry about trying to defend what they believe  — they simply come to receive Jesus — to participate in the life of Jesus and to know that he has become of my/our life, my/our day, my/our real life situation — Jesus is one with me/us in the midst of what is happening right now!

So, as we move forward this week … let’s think of some examples of those who are foolish …

[1] Those who think they know more than God … or that they have been chosen to take the place of Jesus … they have an answer for everything.  In reality, sometimes, there are no answers to the question of “why” …. we just keep going believing that there is a better day in front of us!

[2] Those who keep arguing with another fool — it takes at least two people to have an argument — to keep arguing about something that does not matter — to argue about personal opinions — to bicker over and over — is a pure waste of time and energy.  When will we learn that we simply need to move on, change the subject, or go somewhere else?

[3] Those who live as if there is no tomorrow …. there will be a day of reckoning … here on earth and one day in heaven.  We can’t keep spending more than we make …. eventually the bills come due.  And, one day, we will stand before the face of God.

[4] A fool puts more time and energy into getting things — than being in relationship.  All things break … all things wear out … love endures.

[5] A fool believes only what they can see, feel, taste, or hear —- there are some invisible realities that are more important than the tangible.

Eternal life is all about heaven …. and heaven is all about eternal life.  BUT, we begin to experience the eternal life here on earth the more and more with walk with Jesus …. for weeks we have heard Jesus teaching about himself as the bread of life, the food that lasts….have we learned what he is saying?  Are we smarter today than we were a month ago?  Are we just a little bit wiser?

hjm

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