HOMILY FOR TWENTIETH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (B)

 

 

 

Dear friends. In these days we are all more health conscious which of course is a good thing. More and more we hear that a key part of being healthy and staying healthy is eating healthy food. The trouble is, junk food can often taste better than healthy food. Any of us who had to go on a diet will know this. Often the things that are most enticing and tempting can do us harm. Another example from science. Carbon Monoxide gas will attach itself seven times more easily to human lungs than oxygen will. But it will kill you in 10 minutes. Being healthy involves making choices: on one hand saying no to things that are tempting but do us harm and on the other saying yes to things that nourish us, body and soul and keep us healthy.

In the readings today, there is mention of food and drink in all four texts. In the first reading from Proverbs, Lady Wisdom invites all of us to come and eat the food she has prepared. All is ready and waiting but in order to come and eat this food, we must ‘leave your folly behind’. We must make a choice. In the Psalm we are invited to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’: that the things of God are good for us. Then in the second reading, St Paul urges us not to drug ourselves but to feed instead on the Holy Spirit. Finally in the Gospel, Jesus continues to teach us that he is the Bread of Life whose flesh is real food and whose blood is real drink. His amazing message is clear: ‘whoever eats me will draw life from me.’

From all of this, what then are we to do? The answer: choose carefully the food that we eat – avoid the junk food of the body and soul and eat the rich spiritual food that is waiting and prepared. We are constantly being told what is bad food for the body but what is spiritual junk food and what is spiritually healthy food that is available? Here are some examples of what might be considered spiritual junk food and the spiritually healthy food that we need instead of it.

Bad news of doom and gloom. Too much of this can drag us down. Find a good news story and rejoice in some good being done and in someone else’s happiness. Finding fault with others. We often delight in the sins and failures of others. Naming their good points is far less fun but it brings peace and joy and builds people up. Too many soaps, reality TV shows, screen time and the world of fantasy: they can distract us from reality that is far more interesting and life-giving. Idea: instead of reading your next novel, read an inspiring biography. Can I recommend that of Donal Walsh called ‘Donal’s Mountain’? If you need your spirits lifted and new reason to hope, read that. Read the lives of the saints, order DVD’s of their lives and watch them together as families. Commit yourself to some spiritual reading every day. We can’t do better than the daily readings contained in the Magnificat booklet which also has inspiring reflections to nourish the soul. Know your faith, love your faith. Magazines like ‘the Sacred Heart Messenger’ can be a great way of providing for a staple and healthy spiritual diet for all the family. Be careful using the internet. On-line there is a huge range of spiritual food that can feed us and enough junk food to injure and kill us. Adjusting our spiritual diets might mean spending less time on-line or on our phones and more time dedicated to prayer, visiting the elderly or the sick. It might mean spending less time indoors watching less TV and more time taking a walk in the country and feasting our eyes and souls on the beauty of light and colour in God’s creation. Finally, eating more spiritual food might mean taking Jesus precisely at his word in the Gospel today: by participating more regularly in the Eucharist where we receive the living bread that gives life to us and to the world.

These are just some examples of how we can eat more spiritual food and less junk. When we feed a healthy soul with healthy food, we become stronger in body and spirit, being able to deal with the challenges we face but to also able to help others find their way back to health. We are what we eat, so make sure you’re eating wholesome spiritual food every day. The table is ready and set. Dinner is served.

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