Sunday Sermon for August 16, 2015, the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Readings: Prov 9:1-6; Eph 5:15-20; Jn 6:51-58
In the second reading today St. Paul tells us that we are not to live as foolish persons, but as wise, making the most of the opportunity because the days are evil. There are certainly many things we could point to that demonstrate painfully the evil that has overtaken our world. However, there have always been people who have done evil and even reveled in it. One could make the case that it is rare that the evil would be so widespread, thereby setting our time apart from most others eras in the history of the world. There have been other times where the majority of the people have embraced vile things, so that puts us into a category with only a small number.
However, I think the thing that highlights the evil more completely than anything else is the nearly wholesale rejection of the teaching of our Lord. When one is no longer moored to the stability of solid truth, such a person is bound to be blown along by every wind of falsehood, selfish interest, or moral relativism that comes along. We never cease to hear from such people that they believe in God and even that they believe in Jesus, but they do not seem to see the disconnect between their belief in God and their concomitant rejection of the revelation of God. How can one claim to believe that Jesus is God and then claim that they do not believe what He taught? Either they think He is just a god, or they have to reject the perfection of God.
The moral teachings have traditionally been the areas that cause people to fall. It is amazing how many people try to condemn what the Church teaches only because they have given into some point of immorality in their lives. However, what makes our day a bit different is not just the fact that the Church’s moral teachings are being rejected, but that the central doctrines of the Faith are being rejected as well.
Central among all of these teachings are those regarding the Eucharist. Jesus could not have made the point much more clearly than He did. In fact, it was so clear that many walked with Him no longer and He was even willing to allow His Apostles to leave Him because of the importance of this truth. So, the Eucharist has been a problem of people from its inception, the Protestants all rejected the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist and mostly all rejected the Real Presence, suggesting instead that the Eucharist was just a symbol.
Even with so much rejection, Catholics have always stood firm in their belief regarding the Eucharist. The world would call this foolishness, but God will call it true wisdom. In fact, St. Paul says that Jesus is the Wisdom of God so, if the Eucharist if Jesus, than the Eucharist is the Wisdom of God. Given this dichotomy, we have to ask ourselves if we want to be thought wise in the eyes of the world or in the eyes of God. After all, St. Paul says that worldly wisdom is foolishness in the eyes of God and vice versa.
In the first reading we hear Wisdom calling the simple to partake of the food and drink that have been prepared. This, we are told, is the way to forsake foolishness and to advance is wisdom. Isn’t it wonderful to note that one does not have to possess a grand intellect in order to be wise? Equally important is the realization that someone with a superior intellect can still be foolish.
In the second reading St. Paul instructs us not to continue in ignorance, but to try to understand the will of God. Jesus speaks in the Gospel about eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood. He said that those who do so remain in Him and He in them and that they will have eternal life. He also says that if we do not eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, we do not have life within us. It seems to me that this makes it fairly easy to know the will of God. He stated it clearly and in a way that cannot be mistaken.
It is because He is so clear and the teaching is so shocking that many people have tried to find a way around it. Perhaps He made it so clear because there is no way around it. It is His express will that we unite ourselves with Him in the Holy Eucharist so that we can share His life, His love, and His wisdom. In a world that has not chosen merely what is foolish, but what it evil, we need to be immersed in the wisdom and goodness of God which is Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.