Local Homilies

August 19, 2018

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 119

Reading 1 Prv 9:1-6

Wisdom has built her house,
she has set up her seven columns;
she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine,
yes, she has spread her table.
She has sent out her maidens; she calls
from the heights out over the city:
“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!
Forsake foolishness that you may live;
advance in the way of understanding.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
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. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 Eph 5:15-20

Brothers and sisters:
Watch carefully how you live,
not as foolish persons but as wise,
making the most of the opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Therefore, do not continue in ignorance,
but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.
And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery,
but 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.

Alleluia Jn 6:56

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowds:
“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.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

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Homily August 19
Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 33:2-3,10-15; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
For the past few weeks, we have been on the discourse leading us to the Eucharist, which began with just feeding with ordinary bread; the quest for more of the left overs; to believing in the word. Today may be said to be the crescendo, and with this culmination the Lord repeatedly sang it today, “the bread that I shall give is my flesh.”
1~ It is to tell us the importance of the Holy Eucharist, that the Lord took time to teach His followers, by first and foremost building their faith, in order to have a foundation where this teaching will reside. This was aptly summarized in the first reading which stated that Wisdom has built herself a house and prepared a banquet.
■ There are certain categories of people Wisdom expects to attend to this feast, they are:
The ignorant and the foolish ones. These are the two main parties for which this banquet was prepared. The wise people were not invited, because they do not need wisdom anymore. It was for these that the Lord referred to, when He said that He has not come for the righteous, but sinners, (cf Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31; Matthew 9:12).
The ignorant ones are those who do not know much, but wish to know more. Without seeking for knowledge no one can know more. The Holy Eucharist is the source of wisdom, those who come there are filled with more knowledge.
The foolish ones are also invited, so that wisdom will be granted them. The wisdom of the world is foolishness before God, (1 Cor. 3:19), because the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are on their way to perishing, (cf 1 Cor. 1:18).
These are the two groups of people no one will ever like to identify with in serious matters, except where we will gain something from them. They are the friends of the wise because of what they are used for – as a means to an end. These are the people used to settle differences by the rich, the powerful and the wise or smart people of the world.
▪ If these come to the Holy Eucharist, they will abandon their folly and ignorance, and no one will use them for such deeds again.
2~ This is why the Lord repeatedly called the crowd to abandon their ignorance and folly, to partake in this banquet. But what happened further will teach us that most times we are victims of what we think.
■ They shouted all the more louder: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” This teaching is becoming increasingly a conundrum, that is to say, becoming more of a riddle, too difficult to solve.
▪ Further still, the Lord repeated it again and again (iterum iterumque); it is like telling someone, “Hear it again and again.” It is because of its importance that the Lord dwelt so much on this pitch. It is like striking a keyboard and stretching the sound ad infinitum.
▪ It is because of what they will gain when they eat the Eucharist, that He dwelt on it, some of which are: Uniting us physically with Christ Himself, which St. Ignatius of Antioch expressed as, “the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, the means to live in Jesus Christ.”
Increase of sanctifying grace within our souls, which the Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47, described as “a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.”
The Eucharist will afford us a spiritual delight; and a pledge of future resurrection, which St. Irenaeus expressed as thus “through the wisdom of God this bread and wine may become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ. The same cycle takes place with our bodies, which are fed on the Eucharist and eventually laid in the earth to become corrupted, to rise again in due time…”
We can overcome our passions for sins by coming to the Holy Eucharist, and in the words of St. John Paul II said, “it is Christ himself who gives shelter to the traveller worn out by the roughness of the road…. In the Eucharist there is the fulfilment of those sweet words: ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (cf Matt 11:28)….”
The Eucharist is the bread that came down from heaven, for travellers and for those who believe, part of what we sing in the sequence of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ said: Ecce Panis angelorum (behold the bread of Angels), factus cibus viatorum (made into food of travellers), vere panis filiorum (truly the bread of the sons [daughters]).
3~ Dear friend, when we eat the Holy Eucharist, what St. Paul said in the second reading will be evidenced in our way of living, because:
We will be careful with the way we live our lives, by avoiding certain things which ought not to be heard among us.
Even when we live in a wicked world today, we will be different, because we will not behave like the wicked world that can: kill, cheat, destroy, gossip, slander, segregate, and other numerous vices, to mention but a few.
Our lives will be thanksgiving everywhere, because the Eucharist is thanksgiving, (cf Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 1360). Only thankful hearts live in the will and plan of God.
It is only in holiness that we really show that we are grateful to God. May God help us as we get ready to make a decision of either to be thankful, by choosing righteousness; or to be ungrateful, by choosing the path of sin. May we have the grace to be holy, because God is holy; so that we should be the Eucharist we receive daily, in the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Have a beautiful Sunday and God bless you always
Fr Joseph Chukwugozie Ikegbunam

Holy Angel’s Parish and St Mary’sParish, St Albans, Vermont