20th Sunday OT_B
August 16, 2015


Wisdom is definitely what binds all three readings today. The first reading extols it, and exhorts all to pursue it: “Forsake foolishness that you may live!” The second reading makes much of it, and Paul tells us to “live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because days are evil.”

The Gospel presents to us who the Wisdom incarnate is … Jesus presents himself as God’s wisdom in human form, as Daniel Donovan puts it.

Now, pray, tell me … who among us does not need a good dose of this wisdom? Who among us would refuse the gift of such wisdom? The “days are evil,” yes … We feel lost. We are confused. We can’t tell who speaks the truth. We can’t anymore decide whether what we see and hear in mainstream media, in surveys, in polls, and in opinion pages, is really the truth, nothing else, nothing less, and nothing more than the truth.

I definitely could use a bit more of such wisdom. I certainly need more than just a single dosage of this wisdom. I need to acquire the virtue and the gift of wisdom that lasts, not for now, but for all time.

The pull of foolishness is strong. Its claim on the minds of people, including me, is almost unstoppable. Like everyone else, I fall for what glitters. Like most people, I get swamped by the information overload. I get carried away by propaganda, from mainstream media and big political and economic giants.

Culture is in decline, and the world of the spiritual has been covered over by the world of the material.

Today, the Lord does not just offer Himself as Wisdom personified. He also gives Himself as Wisdom to be shared … wisdom to partake of … wisdom to consume and He offers Himself as food, not only for the spirit, but also for the body.

It might help us to note that today’s gospel appears to be the climax of the whole discourse on bread, food, and heavenly sustenance. From the opening “rising action” of the feeding of the five thousand (not counting women and children!), to the developing and unfolding mystery of people looking only for material food and missing out on the spiritual side, to the point when the Lord claims directly and clearly to be “the living bread that came down from heaven,” today’s episode is a point of no return. It reaches a high point. It cannot go up higher. It needs a resolution and a conclusion, an image so well explained by Joseph Pellegrino.

I choose to remain for a while today on this “high point.” This is the summit of the Lord’s claim that will be a problem to be discussed next week. Today, you either take Him for His word or reject Him altogether. The die is cast, so to speak.

Jesus clearly makes this claim: “Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Our search for holistic wisdom could not get any better than this.  Why is that?

For one, the Lord cuts through our need for both material and spiritual gifts. He gives us food – food for the body and food for the soul. Wisdom goes beyond merely assuring oneself of a sandwich to go for the material journey. Wisdom offers more – much more, in fact. The Lord, the personification of Wisdom, offers food to assuage more than physical hunger, but more importantly, our spiritual hunger.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord! … That is what we said after the first reading. Yes, today and for all days, the Lord gives us wisdom on all levels, and wisdom in all senses: food for the body and food for the soul.

“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

“Whoever eat this bread will live forever.”