Homily(2) 20th Sunday Year B: Fr. 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 menu list. We take time to look at the list, then, compare notes with our friends and those with us. We do this for various reasons; I want to believe (1) to make the right choice;(2) We want to choose what we would love to eat and drink; and (3) We are mindful of our health as well as the cost of the menu, etc. 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 “Zacchaeus” 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 whom we are invited daily to be wise enough to believe in him, to imitate, to be opened to, and embrace his values.
Unlike some of those whom we may regard as unwise, who misunderstood Jesus in today’s Gospel, when he said, ‘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, particularly through the 1st reading (Prov 9:1-6), to consider the place of practical wisdom in daily living. We need practical wisdom in the choices we make, the company we keep, the books we read, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and in when give pieces of advice to one another. We need practical wisdom in raising our kids. In fact, we need practical wisdom in how we value and discern the overall teachings of Christ, our Lady Wisdom, some of them which are often conveyed to us in metaphors, signs, symbols, the songs we sing in the church, in nature; mountains, seas, oceans, rocks; in the stories we hear and read from the scriptures and in the proverbs, particularly that of today.
The seven columns/pillars that support Wisdom’s dinner house in the Book of Proverbs today reminds us of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
1) Wisdom is one of them. With this column we are able to discern the blessings and the handiworks of God in our lives. 2) Understanding is one of them. With it, unlike the foolish, so to say, in 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 (examples abound). 3) Counsel is another one. 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 of 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).