19 August. 20th Sunday

1st Reading: Proverbs (9:1-6)

Wisdom has built her house, with seven pillars

Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn herself seven pillars.

She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table.

She has sent out her servant girls, she calls from the highest places in the town,
“You that are simple, turn in here!”
To those without sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

Responsorial (Ps 34)

R./: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall be always in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the Lord;
the lowly will hear me and be glad. (R./)

Glorify the Lord with me,
let us together praise his name.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears. (R./)

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress he saved him. (R./)

2nd Reading: Ephesians (5:15-20)

Make the most of each day, shaping our conduct according to the will of God

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: John (6:51-58)

Jesus says he himself is the living bread for believers

Jesus said to them, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”


After dining with Jesus

If ever we move into a new house or get a refurbishment done, it’s time for a little celebration. We might call it a house warming, as if the house needs a good presence of others to be properly launched. Today’s first reading evokes that spirit, where Wisdom builds herself a house, clearly a very elegant home with no less than seven pillars. She throws a feast of fine wine and food and sends out her servants into the streets to gather people to her table. In that reading the building of a house, the making of a feast, the invitation to come and eat and drink, is an imaginative way, speaking about God as the wise host who invites all of humanity to learn from his wisdom. It is interesting that God is portrayed as a woman in this reading, Woman-Wisdom.

That Woman-Wisdom figure who says, ‘Come and eat of my bread, drink the wine I have prepared’ is echoed by Jesus in the gospel who declares, ‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.’ Like Woman-Wisdom Jesus invites us to come and eat of his bread, but unlike Wisdom he declares himself to be that bread. We are to eat of him, to drink of him. More specifically he calls us to eat his flesh and to drink his blood. This goes far beyond anything Wisdom calls for in that first reading. Jesus’ language of eating his flesh and drinking his blood is shocking in many respects. We can sympathize with those who object, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ We cannot hear this language without thinking of the words of Jesus to his disciples at the last supper when, taking bread, blessing it and breaking it, he gave it to them saying, ‘Take, eat, this is my body’, and taking and blessing a cup of wine he gave it to them, saying, ‘Take, drink, this is the new covenant in my blood.’ He gave himself to his disciples, his body and blood, under the form of bread and wine. The last supper became the first Eucharist. We cannot but hear the language of the Eucharist in this morning’s gospel, the Eucharist which we are now celebrating together.

When we invite people to visit us, we offer them food and drink to nourish and cherish them. Jesus invites us to his table and he puts himself before us as food and drink to nourish our spirit. In daring language he declares himself to be our food and drink, the one who can satisfy our deepest hungers and thirsts, our hunger and thirst for life. Jesus promises that ‘whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.’ We receive the Eucharist to draw spiritual life and motivation from the risen Lord. We are then sent out from the Eucharist to be channels of that life for each other. In a real sense we are sent out from the Eucharist as life givers, as agents of God’s life and love for our homes, our society, our world.

Present Among Us

Jesus is living food for us, sent from the Father in heaven. Unlike ordinary food, which just sustains bodily life, this food offers a life that is eternal. From the burning bush to the gentle breeze, God has made his presence known among us since the beginning of time. Being among us as food for body and spirit is a significant way, being present. Christ’s eucharistic presence is in bread and wine, among the commonest elements of food and drink in his day. The Lord is present among us through everyday things.

Bread comes from a process that starts with seeds of wheat mixed with water. These are brought together as dough and, after several stages of development, they end up as a unity which we call bread. Wine begins as a cluster of grapes which, when they are processed, they end up as what we call wine. A group of people gather together for prayer, each of them unique. After a process which is the work of God’s Spirit, they become a unity, which we call church, or the Body of Christ. In communion, the (community) Body of Christ is being nourished by the (sacramental) Body of Christ.

If someone invited you all to gather around me, as close as you can, because he was going to whisper to you, something else would take place that might surprise you. You’d notice that the closer you come to me the closer you’d be to each other. If you gathered closely around one person, you would be touching shoulders with each other. That is how community or the Body of Christ is formed. It is a question of bringing people closer to the Lord and, as a direct result of that, they end up being closer to each other.

Throughout history, God has spoken to his people in surprising ways. He spoke to Elijah through the gentle breeze, and he spoke to Moses in the burning bush. The natives of Bethlehem weren’t too excited that a new baby had been born and, later on, Herod would mock Jesus as a fool, and the soldiers would jeer him as a king. After the resurrection, Mary Magdalene thought he was a gardener, Peter thought he was a ghost, and the disciples on the road to Emmaus thought he was a stranger passing through. That he should present himself in so simple a form as food and drink is just what we might expect from “The God of Surprises.”

Machtnamh: Proinn i dteanta le hÍosa (Dining with Jesus)

Nuair a thugaimid cuireadh do dhaoine cuairt a thabhairt orainn, cuirimid bia agus deoch ar fáil dóibh chun iad a chothú agus mar chomhartha caomhnaithe d’fhonn an caradas a chaomnú. Tugann Íosa cuireadh dúinn suí chun boird leis agus cuireann sé é féin ar fáil mar bhia agus dheoch chun ár spiorad a chothú. i dteanga neamheaglach oscailte, dearbhaíonn sé gurab é féin ár mbia agus deoch, an té ar féidir leis ár n-ocras tart a shásamh, ár n-ocras agus tart a shásamh go síorraí suthain. Tugann Íosa geallúint uaidh go bhuil an saol síorraí aige siúd – ‘an té a itheann mo chuid feola agus a ólann mo fhuil is aige atá an saol síorraí. Is féidir linn saol spioradálta a bhaint as agus spreagadh a shú ón Tiarna. Seoltar amach sinnn in ár dteachtairí , chun a bhfuil faighte againn a roinnt mar a bheadh lón beatha, gníomhairí chun beatha an Tiarna, a ghrá a roinnt.  uirfear amach as an Eocairist as bealaí den saol sin dá chéile. i ndáiríre, glacaimid leis an Eocairist mar lón beatha, mar ghníomhairí ar shaol Dé agus a ghrá a roinnt ar ár dteaghlaigh, ar an saol in a iomlán.

One Comment

  1. Brian Fahy says:

    As a child I once stood outside my house and peered into the blue, blue sky, trying to pierce the blue and to see heaven above. I only got a sore neck. But as a child, too, I was amazed to find that God had come close to me in my little parish church. Sanctuary lamp and tabernacle told me that God dwells here in the gift of bread and wine that Jesus gives us – himself in these sacred signs.

    Everyone looks to find the key to life. We know that wisdom is wonderful and shows us the way. We want to be wise. We know, as Paul tells us today, that being intelligent and sensible is the road to walk. We know that goodness is its own reward and that our hearts are made for something very special. They are God-shaped and only love will fulfil them.

    God is our origin and our destination. He guides us along the right path. He is true to his name. In the Lord, in the Church and in the eucharist we have been given the pledge of future glory. Beyond the blue horizon.

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