August 16: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
The readings of this Sunday focus our attention on the Eucharist as the bread of life in terms of wisdom. The Book of Proverbs foreshadows Jesus as the wisdom who prepares a banquet and invites guests to the feast. “Come and eat my bread, drink my wine have I mixed!” Wisdom teaches us to leave our foolishness so that we may live; it teaches us understanding. This is certainly a prelude to the Johannine high point on the bread of life discourse. The Gospel this Sunday, we have Jesus repeat his teaching of last Sunday: “I am the living bread that came 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.” This was one of Jesus' most difficult teaching. While Jesus was speaking on the level of spiritual realities, the crowds were still on the physical level and could not get the point. That is why they complained and asked: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Was this wisdom or madness? Was it pure nonsense or truth? Our faith takes us to the spiritual level, leading us to realize that Jesus’ teaching is profound wisdom and the absolute truth.
In the Gospel Jesus enters into the central point of the bread of life discourse with dramatic and beautiful words: “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.... Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” Once again we find here the essential relationship between Eucharistic faith and resurrection faith. How clearer could Jesus be in his teaching? This is not a figure of speech but direct language. The bread that Jesus gives us is indeed his flesh. At the end of the Gospel of today Jesus shows us that we enter into communion with him when we eat his flesh and drink his blood. To eat the flesh of Jesus and to drink his blood means to become totally identified with his very person, with his deepest thoughts, with his vision of life, with his values, and with his mission to build the Kingdom of God. Here again Jesus brings in the concept of the total identity with the divinity with the sharing in the meal during a sacrifice. In his suffering and death Jesus totally surrendered to his Father his flesh and blood. We are therefore invited on this Sunday to let the wisdom of faith guide our hearts and minds. Guided by the Spirit of wisdom, we are led to recognize the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and to express our thanksgiving for so great a gift. What more can we ask the Lord for such an intimate act of love for us? What message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings invite us to let the wisdom of faith guide our hearts and minds, leading us to deepen our faith in the real and enduring presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; 2) We believe that by eating the flesh of Jesus and by drinking his blood we become totally identified with and in communion with his very person, vision and mission; 3) We believe that through this communion we share in the Trinitarian life of communion with the Father, the Son of the Holy Spirit.
©2009 John M. Mbinda