During the years when I was a teacher who worked with students from other countries, I had the opportunity to taste various cuisines. Some I liked; others I didn’t. I always tried to return the favor by inviting these students to come to the friary to share a meal with the friars. Sometimes they liked the food that we prepared; sometimes they didn’t. One in particular I remember, and I thought of him as I read over the first reading today. He didn’t like the idea of mixing sweet and sour in the same dish. At the time I wish I had remembered this particular passage from the Book of Revelation. For the seer experiences God’s Word as both sweet and sour.
In this particular instance, the sacred writer is trying to remind us that the Word of God, the Scriptures, can be both a source of comfort as well as a challenge. When we are comforted by the Scriptures, it is like honey in our mouths. When it presents us with a challenge, such as day to day suffering from ill health, it can turn sour in our stomachs.
The experience of Jesus in the Temple can be likened to this experience. God’s dwelling place, the Temple of Jerusalem, was a source of pride for the Jewish community. By all accounts it was a beautiful edifice, a place that lifted one’s heart to God on high. According to their cultural beliefs, the door to heaven was located directly above the Holy of Holies. However, the profanation of that place of prayer by the money changers and the merchants reveals the other side of the coin. Jesus’ stomach was turned by this sight, and he reacts by driving the merchants and money changers out of the Temple.
John is told that he must prophesy after consuming the scroll. His commission is ours as well. We who have consumed the Word of God in our hearing are to prophesy, to evangelize, and to sanctify through our lives. We are to become the Word we hear and the Body that we eat so that all will eventually come to experience the mercy of God through His Word, Jesus, our Savior. That will sometimes provide us with a very sweet experience and, at other times, quite the opposite.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator