20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (NAB Translation)
Welcome to the Sunday Says podcast for August 16, 2015, the twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Thank you for joining us as we open up the Word of God to prepare our hearts and minds for this Sunday’s Mass. This week Jesus challenges us with this most profound and mysterious teaching: that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Many of His hearers were scandalized by these words and turned away. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts to receive these words in faith, and to grasp their full meaning . As always our readings are taken from the Jerusalem translation for copyright purpose.
This passage from the book of Proverbs personifies the Wisdom of God as a woman who is preparing a lavish meal and inviting everyone to participate. “Who is ignorant? Let him step this way.” To the fool she says “Come eat my bread and drink my wine.” In reality we are the ignorant, we are the fools, consuming a diet that will never truly nourish us but rather leaves us hungry in the end. God is inviting us to change our diet and to come eat real food. This real food will become something even greater when Jesus offers Himself in His entirety as the living sacrifice for our salvation through the Eucharist.
The response for the responsorial Psalm 34 is:
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord..
In our second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul continues to guide believers toward a better way of living, and a healthier spiritual diet. He first warns us to be careful, to be intelligent, discerning, to pay attention to what we do and not to blindly follow the ways of the world. He warns us not to drug ourselves with wine, since that would impair our judgment, but rather to be filled with the Spirit. Since cheerfulness and thanksgiving are fitting for a child of God, we should fill our time magnifying the Lord by singing psalms and hymns either informally or in community through our liturgies and other celebrations.
In our Gospel reading from St. John’s gospel, Jesus continues His magnificent discourse on the Bread of Life where He is speaking directly with the Pharisees. Jesus had just fed the 5,000, had walked on water, and now was answering their challenge to provide physical manna in order to prove his credentials. But Jesus takes the conversation in a different and challenging direction. Jesus wanted to change their thinking from the earthly to the eternal perspective and as always surprises them with his answer. He says that He Himself was the Living Bread come down from heaven. To the Pharisees, this statement was presumptuous — even blasphemous. Jews of the period often referred to the scriptures as the “Bread of Life” but now Jesus was saying that He Himself filled that role. And as if this wasn’t shocking enough already, Jesus goes on to say that His Flesh is bread to be eaten. Sensing that Jesus was speaking literally, his hearers –including many disciples– are appalled and decide they can no long follow Him. However, rather than soften His meaning to clarify or decrease their shock, Jesus continues to strengthen His statements, underlining each point even more graphically. Translated from the Greek, Jesus goes so far as to say that they even have to chew (or gnaw) on His flesh and drink His blood, otherwise they would have no life. It sounded scandalous, but this was a moment of decision. Could they believe even if they didn’t understand? What Jesus was proposing was the possibility of a divine life through union with Him that exceeded the limits of their imagination. The question for us is, can we also believe, even if we don’t fully understand?
Gospel Meditation from Bishop Vasquez
Please consider using the following meditation for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Aug. 16):
- In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that he is “the living bread that came down from heaven” and that whoever eats this bread, which is flesh, will live forever. We realize that he is speaking about the Eucharist. What can you recall of your First Communion? Share these joyous memories with a family member or friend.
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