Sunday, August 20, 2006

Come to Lady Wisdom's House (Sunday homily)

In the first reading, did you notice
who Lady Wisdom invites to her banquet?
Not those who are wise,
but those who are "simple"—
who admit they need wisdom!

St. Paul makes a similar point:
how many are foolish in these evil days!
Drunk with wine,
rather than filled with the Holy Spirit.

We joke about it,
but alcohol abuse is a huge problem.
Talk to our school principals, they’ll tell you
how often they see this with our kids.

That includes our Lehman Catholic

High School, and the lower grades too!
Thank God, in our Catholic schools,
teachers can talk about Christ,
they can pray with the students; they can say,
"Father’s down the hall
if you want to go to confession"!

I grew up with an alcoholic in my family.
It made things very difficult,
and it shapes my life now.

Part of what makes this so hard for a kid
is when she or he sees something is wrong,
but no one else will admit there’s a problem.

One time a man came to me, and said,
"Father, I’m here because my wife sent me.
She claims I have a problem with drinking."

"What do you say?"

"I don’t have a problem!"

"Then why are you here?"

"Because of my wife."

"She has a problem."

"That’s it."

"With whom?"

"…well, with me!"

"OK—and what’s it about?"

"Well . . . my drinking…"

Strange, but true:
people often will not see—or will not face—
that they are actually undecided
between their relationships with real people…
and with a bottle!

And you could say the same
about the Internet, sports, work, volunteering,
even at church!—and so it goes.

Until we admit our need,
we never enter Wisdom’s house!
Every week, the Daily Call lists
AA or Al-Anon meetings.
They’re for anyone, even kids!
Call me or Fr. Tom or Fr. Ang if you need help.

In the first reading, God sent his servant,

Wisdom, to invite everyone to eat and drink life;
in the Gospel, God himself comes
with the same invitation.

And gets the same response!

"How can he give his flesh

for the life of the world?"
On Good Friday,

Jesus offers his body and blood;
the night before, at supper,

he gave the Apostles a preview:
the first Eucharist, the first Mass!

Imagine being there, when God himself
spread a table before them.
"If you want to live—come, eat and drink!"

That’s what the Mass is!
But it’s not a "re-enactment,"
like those who will camp out
at the Heritage Festival.

This is the importance

of the Eucharistic Prayer.
Listen as I pray it.
Notice I will speak to the Father.
You hear my voice,
but its the Son of God praying for us!

Listen for Christ call on the Holy Spirit:
to come down on the bread and wine, and later,
to come down on us—for the same reason:
to become his Body and Blood!
Listen for that!

The Eucharistic Prayer may seem to be us,
reminding God;
in reality, its Christ, with us,
having an intimate conversation
with his Father,
about all they will do for our salvation.
They recall the details,
because you and I are listening in!

As we’re "listening in,"
you and I are drawn up to heaven itself—
Wisdom’s true House!
How cool is that?

In the Gospel,
instead of accepting Jesus’ invitation,
they argue with him.
Sometimes, we do that.

Many can’t or won’t accept on face value
what Jesus said about the Eucharist.
"If its his body and blood,
it doesn’t look like it!"
Sometimes folks will say,
"then it’s just a symbol."
As the author, Flannery O’Connor said,
"It its just a symbol, then to hell with it!"

Next week, I’ll say more about how the Mass
is our participation

in a sacrifice and a covenant.
But let me just say here—
eating bread and wine won’t save anyone!
You just heard Jesus say,
"eat my flesh and drink my blood."
Sounds like he meant it.

So, why does it keep
the appearance of bread and wine?
So that we can consume it.
That also gives us room for faith.

Lady Wisdom’s invitation stands for us:
We might wonder where her house is
and how we enter.

Here: the Catholic Church Christ founded;
and the Sacrifice of the Mass is her table.
Many pass by; but all who admit their need,

enter in, and receive Life.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Father
I'll think about it...

Orange_Cross said...

Is it necessary that a catholic produce the body and blood of Christ? Christ produced his own body and blood, it is excellent that the priest should produce this for those who are out of touch, is it less excellent that the body and blood of Christ is produced, apart from catholicism, by God for the faithful regardless of the will of men.

the Joneses said...

Good homily. It was fun to hear a reading from Proverbs - seems to me like the lectionary short-changes that book, which is too bad.

Maybe I'm missing something, but what in the world does orange_cross' comment mean?

Gregaria said...

I think Orange Cross is asking if only a Catholic priest can say the prayers of consecration that change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. I think orange cross also thinks that God can change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ without a priest being present.

Is this a right interpretation, orange cross?

I'll leave the answering to Father.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Only a validly ordained priest or bishop can celebrate the Mass validly, and thus make present the Sacrifice, and thus be an instrument whereby God transforms the bread and wine into Christ himself.

That would not include Anglican clergy, by and large, nor would it include the clergy of any ecclesial body conventially termed "Protestant." It would include the Orthodox Churches and many less well known Churches of the East.

In answer to Orange Cross -- is it "necessary"? Well, depends on what you mean by "necessary." God doesn't need a priest, no; but God chose to do it this way, and there is no other way offered us.

I would not use the verb, "produce" -- Christ is not a "product" -- he is the center of everything. He does this to bring us to him.

Anonymous said...

Father Martin, please tell me the passages in Scripture (so I can educate inquirers) where it defines the nature of priesthood insofar as enabling the transubstantiation - I don't know if it's in the OT or NT.

Question #2, if the eastern Orthodox church is in communion with the Roman Catholic,does this mean that a RC can join the O church without being excommunicated or whatever?


Fr Martin Fox said...


With all respect, I think your first question is rather unreasonable -- rather than have me assemble all the Biblical data for you, wouldn't it be more suitable for you to do that work?

My advice would be to go to the Holy See's website here and look up the section in the Catechism on Holy Orders. That will give you an excellent start.

As to Question 2, the Orthodox Churches are not, alas, in communion with Rome. Rome's position is, we'd do it in a flash; but the Orthodox are not ready for that step.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Sorry, I did that link wrong: Try this(

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I'll do 'er!