Readings: Isaiah 56: 1, 6-8; Ps. 67; Rom. 11: 1-2a, 29-32; Matt. 15: [10-20] 21-28
‘Jesus said to them, “Are you also still without understanding’”’?
God grant that I may speak to you in his name: Father Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN
‘My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.’ The voice of the psalmist in his instruction to us against trusting transient wealth over an enduring God, from psalm 49. Understanding; comprehension; securing knowledge This aspect of the process of human learning, and of our self-actualization is becoming increasingly destabilized in these neo-Covid days as we negotiate fake news contradictory instructions, the occasional statute amongst the indeterminate guidance; agendas devised from an increasingly shapeless politics under authority removed seemingly further and further from its subjects.
No wonder societal structures so easily cave beneath the wake of this. If we fail in understanding, we remain uneducated; malnourished, unable to go deeper in the pursuit of truth. We are not actualized into those fully alive human beings envisioned by Irenaeus and Abraham Maslow. The glory of God already in us is not led forth, and we perish. As for the acutely hungry and economically poor – they simply die, as we sadly see time and again. Understanding is vital to learning well, and that strength and right of learning is essential to living well and apprehending more particularly, the truth of who we are in the image of God. The Church is called – we are each called – to tell that truth afresh in every generation.
To be those who meditate on understanding and speak wisdom in this equivocal age is to secure the knowledge that all lives matter, yes without exception, to grow in awareness that partisanship and politicking will have its day – that loves that alter when they find alteration or meet difference are indeed no loves at all – to see and know and befriend truth in the inward part as James Montgomery has it – this is calling of a covid-aware, missional, yet mistrusted pilgrim Church walking pretty lamely within the national consciousness, yet still always by faith and ever with the mind of Christ. A Church which has made – and continues to make – mistakes, and so must foster a repentant humility which converses with and transforms the culture of wokeness amidst which it is set in the purgative fire of unconditional, extravagant love. A love and an understanding which is – and must seek to remain – antithetical to and many metres distant from – so many of the value-system choices which make God’s kingdom a market-place in our time. A love and an understanding whose light illuminates the way of holiness for a distorted, unactualized generation, recasting us as the Father’s perfect gift, foolish to the wisdom of the world, discerning that ‘truth in the inward part.’
This is understanding when God be in my head, in my eyes and in my looking, in my mouth and in my speaking, in my heart and in my thinking. This is the understanding that will find others and educate them, that will nourish the hurt and lost and call the poor forth to the abundant life of the new self beyond the transience of this world and its too-often synthetic ways and artificial intelligences. This is an understanding that gives life; a wisdom who sets a table and invites us to share her food. For this is the only God who gives himself that all may fully live and learn that their matter comes of the flesh through which the Father creates all matter. He is all that matters. Understanding born of the Spirit, named by the Father, and glorified in the transfigured Son in whom and to whom we live: the true light whom the darkness of this passing age is not overcoming.
It is the understanding that our Lord bids us receive with Himself in the humble approach of the kneeling Canaanite woman, whom we encounter today, literally so beside herself that she is already beyond herself, bearing the equal light of eternity, exalting us with her to the place of equal possession. Her understanding – her holy light – is the self-same light that Jesus bids us shine in our small-corners that many may see and come to believe, to matter in Him. It is the totality of what we take into our hands and taste on our lips in the givenness of the sacrament. Givenness through which even the dogs – especially the dogs – know themselves sanctified, risen, changed from glory into glory.
‘All are one in thee’, teaches the Syrophonecian woman, for all are thine.’ So we recognise, we understand, we are on the way with all the saints in the simple transport of food and drink, by which we all are gathered, remembered and restored; refined in the fire of eternal love which is – and is beyond – all understanding. The creed, the colour and even the name, cease to matter. We must begin – or perhaps begin again – to tell our young – to tell ourselves. Our souls – gifted, old, young, black white, gay, straight, non-binary – these verities of ourselves are intact. This is the great truth we hear and taste and see once more today. Thanks be to God for Nina Simone and the Syrophonecian woman. Thanks be to God for all who open their hearts to wisdom to meet understanding; for all who enable us to rejoice in the full knowledge that is ours through the offering of the Father’s only Son, who recasts shadows and artificial intelligence in the brilliance of perfect love.
As we give thanks for their good examples today, in a week that has celebrated Maximilian Kolbe, Octavia Hill, Jeremy Taylor, pray that we too – the Universal Church – may continue to kneel in such great need before him, implore his mercy and let his good Spirit move us to understanding beyond understanding and into the immeasurably more of the delights of love birthed from meditative understanding which are to come as God’s – and not Mammon’s law – is fulfilled in the unleavened gift of Godself become matter for us, and in whom each one of us so preciously matters.
God grant that I have spoken to you in His name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN