Homily for 20th Sunday

It is easy to be a fool. A Good Christian will be wise.

I like the first reading as it speaks of preparing a feast; feasting is a lovely thought, especially when you’re hungry, and we’re coming up to lunchtime. The theme of Wisdom is introduced in that reading, as if Wisdom were the host: ‘She has slaughtered her beasts, [‘she’ being Wisdom], prepared her wine, she has laid the table. And then all are invited to the feast and especially the ignorant and foolish . ‘Come and eat my bread’ says Wisdom, and drink my wine, leave your folly and you will live’. Do you notice how the ignorant and foolish are specially invited?

This mention of foolishness jumped out at me. I don’t know why exactly, but that happens sometimes. I am reading a familiar passage from Scripture and a particular passage will jumpout at me, so to speak. I think many of us can identify with foolishness. When I look at my life I began by doing and now that I am older and wiser, I still do foolish things. I hear people saying in their old age that if they had their life back again they wouldn’t change a thing. Well, I would; given the chance I would love to omit all the foolish things I did in my youth and even after that. I went to Rome and left my credit card in a cash-machine; I went to Scotland and lost my wallet. Last week I went to the wrong carmelite convent; I went to Ware in Hertfordshire instead of Preston, Lancashire. I could go on and on. I have gone to the airport without my passport. Said hello to someone at a railway station who looked like a friend but wasn’t! I’ll stop there.

However, I don’t think I’m the only one who does foolish things. In fact, I know I’m not. The point Christ is making is that unless you eat his body and blood, then we would be even more foolish. There is a moral side to being foolish, or rather, an immoral side. It is so easy to go astray and do foolish things. Alcohol, too much of it, can lead people to do foolish things. Then there are temptations. It was Oscar Wilde who said, “I can overcome everything, except temptation”. He was a great poet but foolish at time. The wonder is that we are not more foolish more of the time. Is it any wonder that Christ compared us to sheep without a shepherd.

One doesn’t normally link holy communion with wisdom, and yet that is what we are to take away from our readings today. The person who receives Christ’s body and blood will be someone who avoids foolishness. Not automatically of course; we all have to struggle. But Christ gives us wisdom. He also gives us strength to overcome temptation. His body and blood are really food and drink. Well, food strengthens a person. Someone who goes without food becomes weak and vulnerable. But the person who feeds themselves with the body and blood of Christ will be strong. God will make them strong. God will protect them. God will help them to avoid doing stupid things.

Sometimes I meet catholics who have been foolish, and sometimes really foolish. And they say they can’t go to communion because they are not worthy. But that really is foolish. It is the body and blood of Christ that will help them overcome their foolishness, and stop them becoming even worse. We should never deny ourselves the remedy for our souls out of some false sense of humility. God knows our foolishness and yet He loves us. He wants to feed us and keep up strong and happy. I suspect, that if you are like me, you will continue to do foolish things; hopefully not too foolish. But God says to us: come to me and I will help you, I will keep you on the right path. Why wouldn’t we want to do that. Only a fool would turn away.

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