20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
11th Sunday After Pentecost
August 20, 2006
Reflections on the Readings by Dennis Hankins
Proverbs 9:1-6; Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Ephesians 5:15-20; St. John 6:51-58
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus explaining that He will give himself for the life of the world.
It is safe to say that we see Jesus in an evangelical moment as we hear him say, “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 bloodhas eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” In these words we are compelled to think that we need Jesus. However, Jesus explains his relationship with us in extraordinary words. We know they are not ordinary words because of the comments of the Jews who quarreled among themselves as they discuss as to how this man will give us his flesh to eat. For the first 1500 years or so of the church’s history, this question was not all that hard to answer. It is only since the reformation that the real understanding of the church on this question has been protested.
St. Peter talked about Christians being partakers of the divine nature. How is that possible? Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” St. Paul underscored this truth by declaring that the cup we drink and the bread we eat is a participation in the body and blood of Christ. Indeed, if we are destined to be conformed to the image of God’s son, if we are to grow into the likeness of Christ, as we should, then we must see his flesh as true bread, and his blood as true drink. Remember it is our eternal well-being and the spiritual destiny of our families and friends at stake if we resist knowing Jesus the way he invites us to know him.
The one who ‘feeds on Jesus’ will be a true witness of Jesus Christ. We not only adore Jesus, but we feed on him. He who said ‘This is my body and this is my blood’ desires our heart on this matter. If our hearts are burning with knowing him in the breaking of the bread, then won’t we pray more faithfully, more compassionately, for one another? The earliest followers of Jesus after his ascension into heaven and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit steadfastly maintained their fellowship with Jesus daily through the breaking of bread and the prayers. If the testimony of the early church is reviewed carefully, acts done in the name of Jesus resulted in the lame walking, the dead raised, the blind healed and the poor remembered. It is no accident that if the church feeds on Jesus the church will do mighty and gracious things in Jesus’ name. If the church will be a house of forgiveness then we must know the forgiver. If the church will be a house of refuge for the sorrowful, a house of compassion for those who mourn, a house of hope for the hopeless, a house of love for the destitute, tormented and afflicted, then the church must taste and see that the Lord is good and good to all and for all who feast on him. Indeed Wisdom has built her house; she has set up her seven columns and bids all in the city to come to her lofty table of plenty.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. May we never have any second thoughts about it.
Let us pray.
In the words of the Anima Christi:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy Wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant foe, defend me.
In the hour of death, call me.
And bid me come to Thee.
That with Thy saints I may praise Thee.
Forever and ever. Amen