20th Sunday Ordinary Time B

Do Not Act Like Fools

In June 1979, the high school at Willow Springs, Missouri, held a “Sambo Hines Day” and set up a student award named after him, to be given to the W.E.H.S. athlete who most exemplifies “Bo” Hines’ spirit of helpfulness.

Who is Bo Hines? According to the N.C.W.C. News Service, Bo is a 46 year old Willow Springsite who was born a victim of Down’s Syndrome. Orphaned early in life, he would have been committed to a state institution for the mentally handicapped had it not been that Tom and Sadie Ferguson, local pharmacists, took him to live with them in 1963. Although he has the mental capacity of a six-year-old, he has worked out for himself a daily schedule of service to others around town. At 8 AM he spends an hour sorting out soda bottles at one store, and at 9:15 he does the same at another store across town. At noon he gets his lunch at a local cafe, paying for it by sweeping the floor. In the early afternoon, he performs any chores necessary at the Ferguson’s drug store. Then he spends a couple of hours helping to bag candy – at the Willow Springs candy factory. About 3:30 he sets out for home, visiting his many friends along the way. During the high school football and baseball seasons he attends the games as an “assistant manager.” He has his own letter-jacket and travels with the teams wherever they go. To the rival teams he is a familiar and welcome figure. He faithfully attends church every Sunday.

St. Paul tells us, “Do not act like fools, but like thoughtful men.” (Ephesians 5:15. Today’s second Sunday reading.) Bo Hines may have been born with a reduced mental capacity. But like a truly wise man he has used the gifts God gave him for the benefit of others. The townsfolk of Willow Springs appreciate his good cheer and his simple, earnest efforts. Because of his personality, willingness and friendliness toward children, they have given him a rating of “10.” If we can be marked as high by men and by God, we will be lucky indeed.

-Father Robert F. McNamara

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Q385: What can we possibly learn from the corrupt pagan society of Ephesus two thousand years ago that would be relevant to us today?

Did you notice the three “don’ts” in St. Paul’s message (Eph 5:15-20) to the people of Ephesus? “Don’t be foolish; don’t be ignorant; and don’t get drunk.” Sounds like very good advice, wouldn’t you say? But it also implies that the Ephesians were indeed being foolish, ignorant, and tipping a few too many. Gee, d’ya think that could apply to us today?

Why were the Ephesians acting “like fools”? It was because they were wasting the remaining opportunities left to them to prepare their souls for eternity. If those were “evil days” (to use Paul’s words), I wonder how he would describe our own self-indulgent society!

Why were the Ephesians “ignorant”? We are told by Paul that this was caused by their lack of discernment of the Lord’s will. The verses immediately before and after today’s reading were designed to show the radical contrast between the pagan way and the Christian way of living. So in this context, Paul is teaching about the normal way of living the Christian virtues that were manifested through Jesus Christ. An “ignorant” person is one who is not living out the Christian virtues in his daily life, nor even seeking to understand them.

Finally, too much booze leads to debauchery – a significant word that means to become separated from your source of stability (e.g., like a branch from a tree). For those few of you who have “over tippled” on occasion, you know how it inevitably leads directly to a loose tongue and loose morals, as well as resulting in tomorrow’s pain and shame.

So for Paul the “antidote” to avoiding the many pitfalls of our decadent society is threefold: to live thoughtfully; to discern carefully; and to be filled with the Holy Spirit in an attitude of praise and gratitude for God’s steadfast love.

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! We can discern the will of God through prayer (CCC #2826). Prayer and Christian life are inseparable, and this unity of prayer and works is the way to “pray without ceasing” (CCC #2745).

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Q541: Why does St. John’s gospel have so many sayings by Jesus that begin, “Amen, Amen, I say to you…”?

Your observation is correct; John’s gospel quotes Jesus using this double Amen more than two dozen times. It has the purpose and effect of taking the discussion to a much higher and extremely serious level. The ultimate message today is that having Jesus living within you (through a Sacramental life) is his chosen way to bring you to eternal life.

As I tell my Catholic bible school students, this segment from John assumes that you are already familiar with the story in the Old Testament of the Hebrews in the desert being fed manna from heaven. So when Jesus says in today’s gospel (John 6: 51-58) that he himself is “the living bread that came down from heaven,” he is drawing not only a parallel to the old miracle, but radically changing the significance of both the past event and the present reality.

St. John does not have an institution of the Eucharist story in his gospel, but he is clearly indicating to his community the existence of the Sacrament. Furthermore, he is saying that participation in this precious Sacrament constitutes the fullness of living out our faith, and the fullness of accepting the words of Jesus Christ that he is the living bread. Those words of Jesus have called Christian and Jew to make a radical choice ever since the resurrection. One’s free response to those words, sadly, continues to separate Christians into those who accept Jesus and his pointed revelatory words, and those who prefer to manipulate them to mean something other that what Jesus was really proclaiming.

That moment of truth – the moment when Jesus identifies bread and wine consecrated by a valid priesthood as his own body and blood – that moment is placed before us by Jesus as a challenge and a call to respond in faith. It is a very strong invitation! When Jesus says, “Amen, Amen, I say to you…”, we had better listen and respond!

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus (CCC #1391). The Church believes in the life-giving presence of Christ in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life (CCC #1309).

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Come to the Feast; Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord

In our first reading Lady Wisdom invites us to a wonderful banquet with food and drink that give us spiritual and practical insight to be able to advance “in the way of understanding.” In the second reading St. Paul warns us that we need wisdom to give shape and direction to our efforts to know and follow the will of God. He reminds us that the wisdom we have from Jesus must show itself in how we live, in our efforts to know the will of God. In the Gospel we learn that eating Jesus’ body and drinking his blood is the way to share in his life and wisdom and thus share in the God’s eternal life. As St. Paul tells us we ought to give thanks always and for everything we have received from Jesus our Lord. Giving thanks is exactly what the word “Eucharist” means.

Dear Lord, give us the wisdom to know your will and sustain us in our efforts to become what you would have us be. Perfect our faith and increase our love for you above all things.

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