Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Today, we hear again about the Bread of Life: Jesus come down from heaven; Jesus, the wisdom of God, who invites us to His banquet so that we may acquire knowledge of Him; Jesus, the Son of the Father, who wants us to share his divine life; and the same Jesus, who is the glorious Lord to whom our Christian community sings psalms, hymns and inspired songs in thanksgiving for everything we have received.
In the first reading we learn the following practical things:
- God calls and invites all to a share of His wisdom. God’s wisdom is a gift that we have to make use of for the good of all. It is a gift that we have to develop, not to abuse for our personal benefit only. It is the gift for us that we may be able to make the right decisions in life to follow Him.
- God wants his people to be simple and to avoid the complexities of life. God’s simplicity emanates from His love for His people. The Israelites abused this love by complaining much and by worshipping the man-made gods of their neighboring nations. We also fall into this kind of idolatry and life of complexity when we give in to the demands of consumerism to satisfy our physical and temporal desires, when we glorify the human body through fleeting and immoral pleasures and when we take advantage of others, especially the weak and unknowledgeable, only to gain power and fame.
- God admonishes his people to forsake foolishness. The foolishness of the Israelites came from their presumption that Moses has fooled them and God has forgotten them. They lost focus of the reward awaiting them. We ourselves presume that life is long and that we have all the time for ourselves, so we can do what we want. Our lack of common sense lies in the fact that we are selfish and we think so much of ourselves. So we need to take a little time to contemplate on our origin and God’s plan for us.
St. Paul, in the second reading, shows us a few insights:
- Make the most of the opportunities of life given us. We say that opportunity comes only once. It may come another time. But it will not always be there all the time. The time given us by God is an opportunity to be with Him, to proclaim His presence and to do His will. Time wasted is opportunity wasted. So, St. Paul tells us: “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity…. do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord” (Eph 5:15-17).
- St Paul admonishes us to know and understand the will of the Lord. Eradicate ignorance of the ways of God. Read and study the Bible. It is the Word of God. Listen to the Word of God in the celebration of the Eucharist. Don’t just sit or stand there and let time pass. Participate. Interiorize what you hear and be filled with Jesus Himself so that you can live accordingly.
- Always give thanks for everything in Jesus Christ. Be joyful in your hearts, for gratitude makes a person seek the good of others. It brings out joy and peace. It avoids violence and does not have a domineering attitude. Gratitude tries to understand others and seeks the blessing of God for others. St. Paul exhorts us to “be filled with the Spirit…. giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Eph 5:18-20).
So, learn from Jesus in your visits to the Blessed Sacrament in your chosen time of the day, in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in reading and reflecting on the Scriptures, in your service to the needy. In the morning before you do anything and in the spirit of gratitude, reflect on what you will do during the day, and thank the Lord in the evening for what He has done through us.
Without a spirit of gratitude we become proud of our achievements and will seek to manipulate plans and other people. Only with the Lord can we live a grateful and peaceful life.
Let us then commit ourselves again to Jesus, who was laid in a manger to be our Bread of Life, who instituted the Eucharist and the Priesthood to continue filling us with Himself, and who suffered, died and rose from the dead to assure us of the reality of eternal life. Eternal life starts now.