Dame Wisdom and Dame Folly are two characters in the book of Proverbs. Dame Wisdom offers good advice on how to get on in life, while Dame Folly’s suggestions are not only disastrous but they lead to complete ruin.In today’s scripture readings we see the result of this alongside Jesus’ teaching about the bread of life.
So it’s not surprising that Dame Wisdom is inviting people to enjoy a banquet of bread and fine wines that she has prepared. Come and eat, she says, and you will gain insight into what really matters.
Meanwhile Dame Folly (in a passage that follows today’s scriptures) invites people to drink stolen water and to eat their bread in secret. Not exactly the recipe for a festive social gathering!
These two Dames are the backdrop for what Jesus is telling the crowd. He has fed the 5000 with bread and fishes. He has told them that in future they will be able to eat a bread that will never leave them hungry. And now he comes straight out with it and says that he himself is that bread. Whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live for ever.
For the crowd the choice is stark. Eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus: is this wisdom or is it folly? What are they to make of it? If they go along with it, they will be considered fools in the eyes of the world, but if it turns out to be true then they will have cashed in on the most incredible promise: to live for ever!
In a sense each one of us today is part of that 5000-strong crowd. What Christians believe about the eucharist is considered foolishness by others. We too are asked by Jesus whether we are prepared to accept his teaching, to follow in his steps, to eat and drink his flesh and blood. Like the crowd, we are faced with the stark choice. Do we go for Dame Wisdom’s sumptuous spread or do we settle for Dame Folly’s fast food?