20th Sunday Ordinary Time B August 20, 2006

Jesus the Living Bread

Note: I preached this homily today at Ss. John and Paul Church, Coventry Rhode Island. I was invited to celebrate the Mass there as part of their 50th anniversary celebration. I grew up in this parish and received all my sacraments there except for Ordination to the Priesthood. I am also the first priest to be ordained from the parish.

Homily — 20th Sunday OT B August 20, 2006
Wisdom has built her house, a glorious, multi-roomed mansion built on a beautiful piece of land. In her dining room, Lady Wisdom has spread her table with the finest food, the best of wines and drinks. Her domestic army of waitresses and maidservants stand by to serve any and all guests who enter the House of Wisdom.
These invited guests can even move in to this mansion and make it their home, living there rent free for as long as they wish, coming and going as they please. And each day, Wisdom’s guests recline comfortably at her sumptuous table and are served at no charge the best of food for breakfast lunch and dinner, not growing overweight but feeling stronger and healthier and more alive with each passing day.
Such is the blessed earthly life of those who have accepted Wisdom’s invitation to live and dine in her House. But, Wisdom doesn’t invite just anyone to be a guest in her home. Politically incorrect woman that she is, wisdom practices discrimination.
The Book of Proverbs says that Wisdom calls . . . . out over the city: “Let whoever is simple turn in here, (and) eat of my food and drink of (my) wine.” Only the simple can dwell in wisdom’s house; all others need not apply.
My brothers and sister in Christ, it’s important to realize and to remember how very simple our Catholic faith is supposed to be, and how simply we are to follow Christ and His Church.
Now, simple doesn’t mean stupid, nor does it mean small or insignificant. Simple means clear, uncomplicated.
While each Sunday we remind ourselves of our simple faith by reciting the Creed, it might be good to remember what exactly we are saying we believe. Our simple faith is that there is only One God, who created and keeps in being everything that is — the material creation, which science can tell us so much about, and more importantly the spiritual creation which science can tell us nothing about, only faith can reveal this to us. And the greatest of all God’s creations is you and me and all human beings, who are made in this One True God’s image.

And this One True God has only One Son, who about 2000 years ago united Himself with a human soul and body within the womb of a Virgin named Mary; and from this Virgin Mother, who never had relations with a man, Jesus was born a baby in Bethlehem.
We firmly and simply and literally believe this. Whoever doesn’t is not really Catholic.
Jesus of Nazareth is both Fully Man and Fully God, He shows us both who God is and who man is, who we are. And Jesus can only be fully known through two means: His Word and His Bride.
God the Father has written only one Book, the Bible. By coming to know the Word of God, the Scriptures, we come to know the Word made Flesh, Jesus.
And God the Son has married only one Bride: our Mother, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. And by coming to know the Bride of Christ, we also come to know Jesus the Bridegroom, for the two have become one flesh. St. Joan of Arc said “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”
And so if we simply turn away from what Jesus and His Church teaches to be sin, and by His grace obey the Ten Commandments as Jesus and the Church teach us to, Jesus will call us His friends and after we die He will admit us into the joys of Heaven for eternity.
But if we don’t repent of what Jesus and His Bride calls evil after hearing His voice, if we harden our hearts to God’s grace, Jesus will call us His enemies, and we risk eternal damnation after we die, Jesus warns us frequently in Scripture.
But Jesus wishes that all men and women would be saved from the reality of eternal hell, so in His great mercy He’s given us so many gifts to help us follow God:
Gifts such as the Sacraments, most notably that forgotten one, Confession; The Gift of His Holy Spirit, to console and guide us; The Gift of His Mother Mary, whom He entrusted us to while hanging on the Cross; The gift of our Guardian Angel and the Saints, who are constantly helping us in mysterious ways.
And finally, Jesus has given us the gift of the Pope, who speaks with the authority of Christ; the gift of many good priests and bishops who can lead us to a deeper relationship with the Lord; and the gift of many good Christian religious and lay people who can inspire us to greater hliness and commitment.
But the greatest, and perhaps the simplest of all gifts Jesus has given us is Himself truly present to us in the Holy Eucharist.
I am the living Bread come down from Heaven. This is my Body, this is my Blood. For 2000 years, Catholics have taken those words literally, and found in the Eucharist the source of their faith and the greatest part of their faith.
To name just two very simple persons, Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta while alive claimed that all they could do all the great things they did because they spent an hour each day in adoration before Jesus in the Tabernacle and received Him each day in Holy Communion.
And so, as Jesus the Living Bread comes to us today on this Altar for us to eat and drink, may we all hear and heed the voice of Wisdom, calling out over the city: “Let whoever is simple turn in here, (and) eat of my food and drink of (my) wine.”

One Response to “20th Sunday Ordinary Time B August 20, 2006”

  1. Mike Dubois says:

    Thanks Fr. Woolley for this sermon. I think in this time of year when CCD is beginning, we need to be reminded of WHO it is that we are teaching. But yet, you really hit home, for me, when you included everyone…not just those who are actually teaching CCD. I can teach just by talking to someone off the street and be that same witness as the CCD teachers…although I already knew this…your topic on “Who do you say that I am” really made me think…”Who do I believe Jesus really is”? Is HE a mean figure when I sin? Is HE a loving father as the parable of the Prodigal Son? Does HE always give “second chances” more times than I can count? Is HE the ONE I can always count on when things are at their worse…or even at their best? WHO DO I THINK JESUS IS TO ME?

    During the week, I really had to think about this and to be honest…it’s going to take some time to really answer that question…not because I don’t really know Jesus…but HE reveals HIMSELF in many ways to me that I end up changing my answers to this same question. But the one answer is certain…HE IS THE SON OF GOD AND SAVIOR OF THE WORLD! That answer will never change…I guess the answers are different for every walk of life…just have to know the person and where he/she is at in their relationship with HIM in order to find out WHO HE IS to him/her.

    I will be honest Fr. Woolley…I am still pondering this question even till present moment…and hopefully I can answer fully this question soon.

    In Jesus and Mary…

    Mike