Saturday, August 19, 2006
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 20, 2006
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - B
Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns; she has
dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table. She
has sent out her maidens; she calls from the heights out over the city:
"Let whoever is simple turn in here; To the one who lacks
understanding, she says, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I
have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way
Brothers and sisters: Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish
persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the
days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to
understand what is the will of the Lord. And do not get drunk on wine,
in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one
another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to
the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.
Jesus said to the crowds: "I am the living bread that came down from
heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I
will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled
among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh
of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will
raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is
true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and
I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of
the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of
me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors
who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
In inviting us to feed on his "flesh" and drink his "blood," Jesus
invites us to change our view and attitude - to embrace the life of his
Father: the life that finds joy in humble service to others, the life
that is centered in unconditional, total, sacrificial love; the life
that seeks fulfillment not in the conventional wisdom of this world,
but in the holiness of the next.
In the "bread" he gives us to eat, we become the body of Christ with
and for one another, in his "blood" of the new covenant, his life of
compassion, justice and selflessness flows within us, and we become
what we have received: the sacrament of unity, peace and
reconciliation. What a beautiful thought, if we accept it.
For us, food and drink are essential. Not only do they have an enormous
symbolic value in terms of our community or family life. Can you
imagine a birthday, a wedding, or a fiesta celebration without any
food? Nowadays, many important business deals and social agreements are
struck over a dinner or luncheon.
"Eat better and live longer." Immortality, it was believed in many
ancient legends and myths, could be found somewhere. In the ancient
Roman mythology, it was believed that the gods were kept from dying
because they were fed a marvelous food called ambrosia and were given
to drink a magical potion named nectar. Truly, for them, they became
what they ate, their food made them what they were - immortals.
Now, that is precisely the whole point of Jesus' words in today's
Gospel reading. On the occasion when Jesus was teaching in the
synagogue of Capernaum, he says something very strange indeed. He says
in effect that all those myths and legends about food and drink capable
of producing immortality were not just empty dreams, but that in fact
there were indications, preparations, anticipations, pointing to what
would one day be fulfilled with his coming. For indeed, Jesus has come
to offer the marvelous food and the supremely potent liquid that will
ensure your immortality - and that food and drink are nothing else than
his flesh and blood. This is what Jesus is in effect telling us.
Of course, he is not speaking of mere physical immortality as the
ancient pagans understood it: a prolongation natural life as we know it
now. He is speaking of something much better. He is referring to a
sharing in the very life of God, a life which begins now invisibly but
very truly in our hearts - a life so powerful that eventually, after we
will have experienced the physical death like a mere falling asleep, we
will be brought back to life, but this time to a life of total joy and
happiness, filled forever by the infinite love of God.
Jesus slept the sleep of death for only three days, and then rose again
gloriously alive forever. When we partake of the Eucharist, it is not a
dead Christ that we eat. It is his resurrected body, the glorious
Christ we receive. How can we not be changed by it one day, since we
become what we eat? With other food, for example, when we eat a piece
of meat or cake, that meat or cake get assimilated and become part of
us. Not so when we receive the Risen Lord in the Eucharist, we become
part of his Risen Life.
For some of us this may sound too good to be true. And so, we might be
tempted to react like some of Jesus' listeners in the synagogue of
Capernaum - with skepticism. But we are in a better position than they
were in judging the truth of Jesus' words. They only saw a man of flesh
and blood before their eyes. But by the grace of God, we know better.
We know that Jesus is risen from the dead, forever alive with the life
of his Father. And that changes everything. When Jesus promises that
whoever receives the Eucharist, he will raise up the person on the last
day, we know that he can do it and that he will do it.
We do not need ambrosia and nectar. We have Jesus Christ, the bread
from heaven. In him humankind's wildest dreams are far surpassed. Do
you believe his words?
We pray ...
-for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn.
-for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
-for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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� 2006 Daily-Homily