Commentary: 20th Sunday Year B

First Reading: Proverbs 9:1–6
Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table. She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls from the highest places in the town, “You that are simple, turn in here!” To those without sense, she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

In the Old Testament, divine Wisdom is often represented as a woman (the word ‘wisdom’ is feminine in both Greek and Hebrew), inviting to her banquet all who are willing to come. The only qualification is to be simple and open to learning, those whom Jesus in the gospel will call ‘meek and humble of heart’. Especially after the Exile in Babylon, the Israelites realized that they could not rely on their own strength and wisdom, but must turn to God in humility and confidence. Such lowliness is a feature of the post-exilic prophets and their spirituality (Wansbrough, H. (2012). The Sunday Word: A Commentary on the Sunday Readings (p. 210). London; New York: Burns & Oates).

Response: Psalm 34:9a
O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.
Psalm: Psalm 34:2–7
1I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
3O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. 4I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed. 6This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble.
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:15–20
15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Singing is a natural expression of joy and united harmony that has always occurred in Christianity from the very beginning, to express the joy and gratitude of Christians in the Lord.

Gospel: John 6:51–58
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Last of the readings from the Bread of Life discourse.

Just as when I’m sick food does me no good and can even harm me, so if I eat Christ sacramentally without wanting to be molded into him, it does me no good at all.

Just as blood is the sign of life (no blood = no life), receiving the blood of God

And drinking the blood of Christ? Blood is the sign of life—if there is no blood, there is no life—and God is the Lord of life and death. So if I receive Christ’s blood, I take on his life, his divine life, as the gift of God. That has alarming side-effects: it means I share Christ’s life with other Christians. We all live with the same life’s blood. Do I really share my life, my talents, my goods with others, knowing that I share the same bloodstream? Question: How do you hope to grow by receiving the Eucharist?” Wansbrough, H. (2012). The Sunday Word: A Commentary on the Sunday Readings (pp. 211–212). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

Jesus delivers this Bread of Life discourse at the height of his public popularity.

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