Homily 20th Sunday Year B: Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Pro 9:1-6; Ps 34:2-7; Eph 5:15-20 and John 6:51-58
Eating divine food wisely
Ordinarily when we walk into any restaurant we are presented with a list of menu. We take time to look at the menu list. And sometimes we compare notes with our friends and partners. The reasons for this, I want to believe is to make the right choice. We want to choose what we would love to eat and drink. And perhaps also at the back of our minds we are mindful of our health as well as the cost of the menu, in as much as we don’t get drunk. We might want to call this process of menu discernment, practical wisdom!
Throughout this month of August our Sunday Bible lessons and homilies have been focusing on Jesus as the living bread, the bread of life, the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Communion, in fact, the entire life of Jesus, his virtues, of love, caring for the sick, feeding the multitude, sharing a cup of water with the “Samaritan women,” forgiving “Zaccheus” and raising Lazarus from the death, inviting the “little ones” to come to him, embracing everyone, men and women, young and old! This is Christ the Bread of Life! This is the Christ we invited daily to be wise enough to believe in him, to imitate, to be opened to, and embrace his values?
Unlike the foolish ones in today’s Gospel who murmured, who misunderstood, the saying of Jesus, ‘ I am the living bread 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 church, employs us today, through the 1st reading (Prov 9:1-6), to consider the place of practical wisdom in the choices we make, the company we keep, the books we read, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the advise we give to one another, how we raise our kids, including how we value and discern the overall teachings of Christ, Lady Wisdom, some of them which are conveyed in metaphors, signs, symbols and proverbs.
The seven columns/pillars that support Wisdom’s dinner house in the Book of Proverbs today reminds me of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, mentioned by Prophet Isaiah, St. Paul and Thomas Aquinas:
1) Wisdom is one of them. With this column we are able to discern the blessings and the handiworks of God in lives. 2) Understanding is one of them. With it, unlike the foolish in the today’s gospel who misunderstood the “bread of life metaphor” used by Christ, we are able to think through and make a distinction between Christ's teachings and other ‘worldly” teachings today. 3) Counsel is one of them. With it we are able to constantly make right judgment. 4) Fortitude is one of them. With this column we are able to follow Christ without fear and intimidation. We carry our daily crosses bravely after Christ. 5). Knowledge is one of them. With it we understand the meaning of Christ as the Bread of life. 6) Piety is another column. With it we reverence Christ. We receive the Holy Communion, Christ, with reverence. 7) And the last column is fear of the Lord which enables us to respect God and one another, the dignity every human person.
As we worship and received Christ the Bread of Life (the Lady Wisdom) today let us add to the list of our life’s wisdom these pieces of advice offered us by St. Paul in today’s 2nd Reading. It is on how to discern our “divine menu,” how to make good choices, how to live as Christians, and as believers in a changing world.
“Brothers and sisters…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” ( Eph 5:15-20).