20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 19, 2018

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 19, 2018

20B18.   Proverbs 9:1-6.  Wisdom “has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table.” Wisdom says, “Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.”  The virtue or way of wisdom is presented as a matron who offers the food that is truth to the human mind so that the human person may direct oneself into proper courses of action and not be lost in worldly folly.

John 6:51-58.   The first sentence here repeats the last sentence from last Sunday’s Gospel.  Then the Jews question, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  They take him literally because, as yet, he has said nothing of his flesh coming under the appearances of bread.  “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.”  “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

The custom of participating in the eating of what has been sacrificed to the Lord in the temple is documented in the first seven chapters of Leviticus.  At times the sacrifices are animals; at other times, baked or deep-fried cereal offerings.  Usually the participants are Hebrew priests but with one type of offering Leviticus 7:19c reads, “All who are clean may partake of this flesh.”  What Jesus intents to do is to offer himself on the cross as a once and forever sacrifice, replacing the repetitious offerings of the Old Testament.  When he says,  “Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19c), Jesus calls upon our priests to re-present or present over and over again the once-and-for-all sacrifice of his crucifixion on Calvary.  Jesus dies only once but that one sacrifice is offered up over and over again as he commanded us to do.

To eat his flesh and drink his blood means not only to receive Holy Communion but even more to have Jesus as the source of the life that is spiritual and eternal.  Of course we already have natural life as do all animals of the earth but the life Jesus gives us in his flesh and blood is infinitely beyond the natural.  Jesus comes to us under the appearances of ordinary earthly food to remain in us and we in him so to be our ongoing source of God’s life, his personal presence in us and we in him.  In John 14:23, Jesus said, “Whoever loves me will keep my word (do my will), and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”  The divine presence gives us a share in his divine life.  Recall what Jesus said in John 6:27a: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”  Jesus is calling upon us to reorient our lives around and not around ourselves or the things of this world.

Ephesians 5:15-20.  “Brothers and sisters: Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise,” trying “to understand what is the will of the Lord.” To have God as truly our God means that we must daily submitting ourselves to the One who loves infinitely, who knows all beyond all measure, whose will is based on a foundation that is divinely perfect in every way.  If we do not live in submission then we are saying that we do not accept him as God, just as Lucifer did.  Truly having God as our God means not only to accept the eternal truth in our intellects but even more importantly to rejoice in our hearts, “giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” who cares for us as his beloved children.