Monday, August 10, 2015

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 16, 2015

First Reading Commentary
Saints Augustine and Ignatius teach that the house wisdom has built is the Church.  And at this house, Saint Gregory adds, is where all instruction, the seven sacraments, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are received. 

The “seven columns” are symbolic and are meant to show the strength and stability of true wisdom which comes from the Church; there is also, however, a mystical dimension to the number seven such as the seven sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

The Fathers of the Church explain the meat, wine and table to mean the table of our Lord which offers His precious Body and Blood. 

“Let whoever is simple turn in here; to the one who lacks understanding, she says, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!”  Saint Augustine explains this passage with these words: “Uncreated Wisdom took Flesh of the Blessed Virgin, prepared the table of bread and wine, as Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, and chose the weak of this world to confound the strong.” 

The final verse is the Church’s instruction to forsake the wisdom of the world, which is nothing more than “foolishness,” and come to receive the true wisdom of our God which brings peace because true wisdom enables one to look beyond suffering and see a future of eternal joy.        

Second Reading Commentary
For the most part, practicing Christians have an understanding of what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, God’s way and the way of the world; but the fragrance of this knowledge is a healthy prayer life lest this gift of wisdom should become stagnant and fall prey to evil.  A good prayer life rewards with an ardent awareness of God’s Presence. 

Practicing Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; but today there seems to be an invisible dividing line among those believers.  On one side are those who simply believe and accept the Church's teaching on the Eucharist.  But on the other side are those who are head over heels in love with the Eucharist.  Why does this difference exist?  Surely the latter cannot see Jesus under the guise of bread and wine - or can they?  Maybe not in the physical sense but God created humanity to be receptacles of His love and a vibrant prayer life opens the soul's gate and permits God's love to gush; and this torrential love of God radiates immensely from the Eucharist. 

Saint Peter Julian Eymard, called the apostle of the Eucharist by Pope Saint John XXIII, once wrote: "To pray is to glorify the infinite goodness of God. It is to set divine mercy into action, to delight in and release the infinite love of God for us." 

Saint Paul closes this Reading with a description of the daily life of the Church; and more specifically the Church’s daily liturgical life which is both the Mass and the Divine Office.    

Gospel Commentary
This Gospel opens with a very important point: Our boundless God condescended to be among us, to offer us His very Self, and His gift of Self rewards us with eternal life.  Not even a multilingual person could find the words that would do justice for such an unfathomable act of love and humility. 

Jesus states that His Flesh and Blood are “true Food” and “true Drink”; and whoever partakes of this Food and Drink will have eternal life.  The Greek text uses the word "alethos" for “true” which more accurately means "indeed" or "without a doubt"; Jesus continues by saying: “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life.”  Again in the Greek version the word used for "eat" is "trogo" which really means "chew".  Thus it seems obvious that our Lord is not even remotely suggesting that His Body and Blood take on a symbolic significance; instead He is scandalously attaching to His words a very literal meaning. After consuming the Eucharist, Christ's Body and Blood dwell within us. 

How appropriate the words of our Blessed Mother when she visited Elizabeth: "Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo - My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!"  Our Blessed Lady at that time also had Jesus dwelling within her.  After receiving our Eucharistic Lord in a state of grace, somewhere floating around in our meditation is the mind boggling, overwhelming reality of being living and breathing tabernacles.  Who can begin to explain this display of love for such undeserving creatures? 

Thus our Almighty, ever-living God humbled Himself and became Man to freely offer Himself “for the life of the world” but still maintained His unprecedented Divine power by seeing fit that His Eucharistic Self would sustain us forever.