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YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE BANQUET OF UNION
BY: REV. FR. ANSELM CHIGOZIE AMADI
PROV. 9:1-6, EPH 5:15-20, JN6:51-58
Opposites characterise life and reality. Mere mention of one thing reminds us of its opposite. Speaking of wisdom and her excellence is at the same time a warning against folly and its attendant consequences. Wisdom, according to the holy scripture, is founded on the fear of the Lord (prov. 9:10), while folly springs from denial of God’s existence and its expression in action (psalm 14 :1).
The wise are those who see beyond the physical and work for eternal reward. Fools are they that look for immediate enjoyment irrespective of future implications.
Those who respond to wisdom’s invitation to the banquet are simply responding to spiritual appetite, while they who on the contrary decline are slaves to sensitive appetite. Here lies the difference between wisdom and the folly, the wise and the stupid.
RATIONAL (SPIRITUAL) AND SENSUAL APPETITES
In every individual, there is something of animal life and something of angelic life. One is sensual the other is spiritual. One degrades us below ourselves, the other raises us above ourselves. Man is midway between animals and angels. If he follows his sensual appetites he gravitates downward to the level of animals, but if he struggles to follow his spiritual appetites, he is raised to angelic life. Whichever way man goes, he is outside himself. Men who allow themselves to be touched by divine fire are so ravished by same fire that they are above their natural life. This is what the first reading calls us to do.
When Jesus fasted for forty days and nights, he was motivated by that which is spiritual over that which is temporal.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt 5:6), are said to be blessed because their hunger will be satisfied by God. Such hunger springs from the spiritual appetite. Those who are motivated by spiritual appetite and desires are of share the same spirit with Jesus Christ who said “my food is to do the will of my Father (John 4:34). Spiritual appetites, unlike the sensual, requires diligence and industry to generate and sustain. It is heroic and praiseworthy. The Israelites in the face of the heavenly bread expressed disgust because they were inclined to sensual appetites.
Sensitive or sensual appetite governs the individual whose spiritual sensitivity is low. Such a soul can hardly see beyond the apparent and judges things as good only in their attractive guise, measuring their values with yardstick of taste and pleasure. We have shinning examples in the cases of Eve and Essau. Eve saw the forbidden fruit as attractive and good, only in the apparent sense, but in misguided desire forgot the Divine mandate and the eternal implication . Essau sought, in blind desperation, the immediate satisfaction of his hunger in utter disregard of the eternal consequence of his desire. Just to satisfy his immediate appetite, he lost his birthright. Likewise, people of sensual appetite enjoy at the cost of their spiritual position and possessions in the family of our God. There is no worse display of folly.
UNION, THE END OF THE EUCHARIST
The holy Eucharist is the highest expression of love. Love consists in self-giving : no greater love than this, that a man will lay down his life…. (John 15 :13). Love unites the lover with the object of his love. In the gift of the Holy Eucharist, therefore, Jesus wishes to unite us to himself as a lasting remedy for the disaster of the fall. The greatest tragedy of the fall is the separation the ensued therefrom between man and God.
The separation that resulted from the fall is a tragedy of double effect. Namely, alienation of man from the terrestrial paradise, (a type of heavenly homeland), and from God ( a sign spiritual death, which consists in the separation of soul from God). Against this background, we understand the words, ” unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood you will have no life in you”. If the holy communion units us with Christ, by implication, the ancient gap is no more.
The soul is United again with God, spiritual life is restored. This fact earns more weight from the Word “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him”. In the Holy Eucharist, we are one with Christ and we participate in the life of God. This explains the meaning of communion : sharing of life.
The flesh of the Son of man that has become food for us and his blood that purples our lips is the same Word on the Divine lips. The Word took flesh and became our feast. If the Word on the Divine lips moistens our own lips, then the mystical bride of Song of songs is perfectly manifest in us. We can fittingly re-echo the words “kiss me with the kiss of your lips (song of songs 1:2). The desire for Union expressed in the above song is today fulfilled in the Eucharistic banquet and in the life of partakers of this feast.