20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

My Dear people,

Jesus has a very emphatic discourse about the Living bread. He says “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Those who heard Christ understood him perfectly well that he meant exactly what he says: but they cannot believe that what he says could come true. If they had understood him in a metaphorical, figurative or symbolic sense there would be no reason for them to be so surprised and nothing to cause an argument.  Later Jesus reaffirms what he said, confirming that they have understood him clearly.

Of course Jesus was speaking of the Blessed Eucharist, which he instituted at the last Supper. The Eucharist and His presence in the Eucharist brings about the reality (he who eats my flesh) that he was speaking about. Jesus stresses very forcefully that it is necessary to receive him in the Blessed Eucharist to share in the divine life of grace receive in baptism. No parent is content to bring children into the world: they have to be nourished and looked after to enable them to reach maturity. “We receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion to nourish our souls and to give us an increase of grace and the gift of eternal life”.  (St. Pius X, Catechism, 289).

The Introduction to the Book of Proverbs ends with an invitation from Wisdom to attend a banquet she is holding at her house. This meal is a symbol for the teachings of the wise men; those who listen to them assimilate those teachings which become part of them.

This nourishment prefigures the true Bread of Life (cf. Jn. 4:14; 6:350) that God will give mankind—the Body of the Incarnate Word, of Wisdom made man. An ancient Christian writer puts these words on Jesus’ lips: “To those who are lacking in the good works of faith as well as those who desire to lead a more perfect life, he says: ‘Come, eat of my body, which is the bread that will nourish and strengthen you, drink my blood, which is the wine of heavenly teaching that brings you delight and makes you holy; I have mixed my blood with my divinity for your salvation’”(Procopius of Gaza).

The “seven pillars” of Wisdom’s house may be a reference to its perfection (seven was a symbol for perfection), but it is more likely to refer to the seven collections of proverbs that go on to make up this book—those of Solomon, the wise men, another collection of words of the wise; Solomon again; Agur; the numerical proverbs, and the words of Lemuel. The fact that there are seven means that the wisdom taught in the book is perfect: it includes wisdom of Israel and wisdom from other countries around about.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Vincent Clemente



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