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Glancing Thoughts
Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 19, 2018
Eleonore Stump

Tasting in Order to See

The readings this week highlight the importance of wisdom. But what is wisdom? And how do you get it?

In the world of Nazi Germany everyone in the Nazi party got a party badge. Hitler’s own party badge was made of gold. To the Nazis, Hitler’s badge symbolized all the things in the world most worth having. At the end of his life, Hitler gave that gold badge as a gift to Magda Goebbels and she said that it was the proudest moment of her life when he did.

Wisdom is the ability to see the goodness of God wherever it is to be found in the world.
But he gave her that gold badge in the bunker under Berlin as Germany was losing the war. In that bunker in the last days of the war, Magda killed all six of her children and herself in an appallingly misguided act of loyalty to Hitler. When the invading soldiers of the Allied armies conquered Berlin and found her body, one of them took that little bit of a gold badge from her dress and pocketed it as a souvenir.

Magda shows us what folly is, doesn’t she? She couldn’t tell the real goods, the real gold, from the fake goods, the things that glitter but are worthless. The gold badge that symbolized what Magda Goebbels lived and died for is a fitting symbol of the terrible foolishness of her life.

Wisdom is the very opposite. It is the ability to discern between the real goods and the shiny fakes. But among the very best of the really good things is the goodness of God. And so wisdom is the ability to see the goodness of God wherever it is to be found in the world.

The Psalm tells us how we get the capacity for seeing the goodness of God, so important for us if we are to live our lives wisely, and not foolishly like Magda Goebbels. We get this capacity by tasting! Taste and see that the Lord is good, the Psalm says.

Taste what?

The Gospel gives us the answer: Christ is the bread from heaven, and every person who tastes this bread will live. He will have the real goods, not the worthless fake goods; and he will see the difference between the two, because he will see God’s goodness in Christ.

Here is the end of the story then: taste the bread from heaven and see the goodness of the Lord. Wisdom lies in this!

Eleonore Stump
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University

Art by Martin (Steve) Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go http://www.ltp.org