Sunday August 15, 2021 20th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
The tie between today’s readings: Wisdom is a gift from God
The first step in gaining wisdom is humility. The God who loves us has opened up “Wisdom House” (Proverbs 9) and advertises to the world to come and learn His ways…free lunch provided. Our problem is that we become more and more proud with each new technical breakthrough to make our lives longer, easier, and better. Our heads swell with “progress” as we unlock the secrets of the universe and push the Almighty into a smaller and smaller corner of irrelevance. Who needs God? He is us. Yet, despite this, no one can seem to answer the big question: If we’re so smart, why can’t we live together in peace… or even with ourselves? Political leaders, doctors, and philosophers give their opinions and diametrically opposed solutions for our disintegrating culture, but to no avail. That’s because we have knowledge without wisdom. Knowledge is awareness that a tomato is a fruit, but we foolishly keep heaping it into our fruit salads.
If you want to know what water is like, don’t ask the fish. (Chinese Proverb)
Like the fish, we lack the objectivity to make judgments about life because we are so deeply entrenched in it. We can’t see the forest for the trees. Wisdom, the correct application of knowledge, has to come from a higher, outside cause and effect perspective. It must be true, experienced, and universal. It has to come from God. We must give up our own self important positions and submit to Him for guidance. God, from His vantage point, judges even the wisest among us as foolish, but He has not left us alone to our devices.
The Gospel reading today, once again, illustrates the foolishness of man who can’t comprehend the wisdom of God: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Drilling down to the core of the issue, in a Temple sacrifice, each penitent person would eat part of the offering as a way to be intimately connected with it. The sinner is stating the he deserves the fate of the dead animal standing in for him. To eat and drink the flesh and blood of Jesus is to intimately partake in His sacrifice. You can’t have an arm’s length Communion. You need to see yourself spiritually on the cross with Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away YOUR sin. You eat the bread, the Body of Christ, and physically make a connection with His crucifixion. The Bible also says to present your body as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). In effect, you’re responding to God, “This is my body which I give up for you.” With this communion, you are a part of a whole community of believers: the Church, in the power of the Holy Spirit, serving one another in Christ (Eph5: 15-20). This mandate also goes out to the whole world as Jesus commands us to love even our enemies as we appeal to our fellow man to be reconciled to God and eat of the Bread of Life. So Christ, the Wisdom of God, answers the deepest problems of existence, co-existence, and beyond. When you were born, God gave you this big box called “Life”. It has many wonderful and curious pieces in it. If you’re having trouble fitting the parts together, why don’t you try reading His manual? Go to Him: be humble, be wise.