June 10, 2018
Proverbs 9:1-10; Luke 14:15-24
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord makes several points in the parable of the great banquet. First off, the invitation is external. Messengers are sent. The Word of God is outside of us and enters into us by the ear. Faith comes from hearing. Next, the invitation may be rejected. The Lord doesn’t force Himself on anyone. That rejection brings damnation. The invitation is itself grace that is extended to the unworthy. Those who refuse it choose their own way and get what they deserve. Those who accept, typified by the poor, crippled, lame, and blind are not superior in any way to those who rejected it but are saved by grace, by God, not by effort or intellect or good works. The invitation is only extended to the unworthy. The invitation qualifies them to enter the Kingdom even though they were unclean.
Finally, this isn’t merely a future reality. The parable is told as a correction to the statement: “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God.” That is not false, nut everyone who receives Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar and who hears Him in His Word is blessed now. In fact, no one will eat bread in the Kingdom of God in the future if he fails to recognize the Kingdom in His Christ now.
Setting Proverbs 9 alongside of the parable is revealing. What is called “wisdom” in the Scriptures is not what we tend to think of as wisdom. We tend to think of wisdom as bits of practical knowledge that leads to good decisions – sort of what we find in Aesop’s fables or on Lifehacker. We often read the book of Proverbs like self-help book because we are looking for “wisdom.” We need to stop. The book of Proverbs, like all the Scriptures, is about the Messiah and His cleansing of the world by sacrifice and grace. It is meant to make life easier to navigate or help you find your way through the BMV. It has been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
In Proverbs 9 it is clear that what the Bible calls “wisdom” is faith. The beginning of faith is the fear of the Lord. Wisdom, faith, and the Holy Spirit are intimately intertwined and here the Holy Spirit Himself is personified as Wisdom. He builds a house and holds a feast of Sacrifice and wine. The word “wisdom” is feminine in Hebrew so that is why it is “she.” In Proverbs 9 the Holy Spirit sends out messengers to invite the simple, not the wise. If wisdom is faith, then simplicity or foolishness is unbelief. The fool says in his heart that there is no god. The Holy Spirit does not invite those who are like Him to eat His bread and drink His wine, but those who are foolish, the simple, that by eating His bread and drinking His wine they would thereby recognize Him as He wants to be known: the Giver, the Forgiver, the Restorer and thus knowing Him, they become wise, that is, they believe in Him and His goodness. The essence of faith is not simply to know that there is a god, even though that is precisely what the fool denies. Rather the essence of faith is to know God according to His mercy, to expect good things from Him, to accept His invitation and love.
Proverbs 9 also gives something of how the Law is received by sinners. It is the case that an alcoholic will often become angry if you call him a drunk, but a sober man rarely will. He will either brush it off or he will consider why you might think that and consider if he has a problem.
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, that is, the recognition that we are sinners who must face God’s wrath. Armed with the knowledge of our guilt and His Law, we recognize our need for mercy and are ready to come and eat His bread and drink His wine.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.