Readings for Sunday, August 19, Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
The Scripture selections we hear this week focus on the differences between wise and foolish choices. They begin with verses from Proverbs, a book that encourages the pursuit of wisdom as a guide for life and warns against other destructive influences. Today we are invited to the house of Wisdom. This house symbolizes the school over which Wisdom presides and the banquet her teachings. It invites the simple person into the banquet where they will grow in understanding and advises them to turn away from foolishness. Don’t we sometimes consider the simple person foolish, unmotivated, or even lazy?
What does this proverb say to your heart? I had a Scripture professor who taught that we should spend at least a week with a single proverb, carrying it around with us and praying with it several times a day, only then would we understand a fraction of what God was trying to teach us.
When we move to the second reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we hear very clearly his warnings to us about how we live our daily lives. In contrast to the Commandments, wisdom deals with the grey area of our lives; i.e. proper rules of conduct and ways of coping with life. Again we hear how the wise make the most of every opportunity while the foolish follow the ways of evil by wasting their time. I believe this is a very grave concern in our society today. Worldly activities and concerns are constantly calling for our time and attention complicating our lives and affecting our relationships with our loved ones and our God.
How do you complicate your life and what effect does this have on your relationships, especially your time spent with God? How do you “make the most of the opportunity” or your time? Paul answers by advising that we “understand the will of the Lord.” We can do this through listening in prayer, reading Scripture, hearing the preached word and sharing with others.
Perhaps you might reflect on what is the foolishness in your life? How can you make the most of your time and talent, both gifts from the Lord?
Proverbs and Paul both tell us that what we need to understand are the ways of God. Proverbs invites the one who lacks understanding to “come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed.”
In John’s Gospel, an invitation is also put forth for a banquet, and the meat and wine are Jesus’ very flesh and blood. Jesus tells us that not only will we have understanding when we eat his food but that we will live forever. Of course, the Jewish people of that time quarreled about this because it did not make sense to them as it doesn’t make sense to us. It is only with understanding, a gift of the Spirit, that we believe. Jesus states that we may have life in him because of eating his body and drinking his blood. His food is what will help us to understand his Father.
Do we have trouble understanding that the Eucharist is really Jesus’ body and blood? Of course we do because it is a mystery beyond human comprehension.
When we gather to share the meal Jesus provides for us, we celebrate the most intimate and important relationships we have, our union with Jesus and with one another through him. Accept his invitation and “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”
Kathleen Ebner is a member of St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Lewes, where she serves as a spiritual director and catechist.