Preacher’s Sketchbook: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 14, 2012

Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.


 St. Didymus the Blind, from Commentary on the Proverbs of Solomon

Fools say that they take the Sacrament as simply bread and mixed wine. But if it were really taken in that manner, [i.e., as a natural meal], how could we interpret the words, “Men ate the bread of angels”? Now “bread,” it seems to me, should be understood as the firm commandments of God and “wine” as the knowledge of God through meditation on Holy Scripture.

St. John Chrysostom, from Homilies on Ephesians

Be not drunk, he says, with wine, wherein is riot; for it does not save but destroy—and that, not the body only but also the soul. Do you wish, then to be cheerful? Do you wish to employ the day? I give you spiritual drink; for drunkenness even cuts off the articulate sound of our tongue; it makes us lisp and stammer, and distorts the eyes, and the whole frame together. Learn to sing psalms, and you shall see the delightfulness of the employment. For they who sing psalms are filled with the Holy Spirit, as they who sing satanic songs are filled with an unclean spirit.

St. Iranaeus, from Against Heresies

For as the bread that is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly, so also our bodies when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.

St. Hilary of Poitiers

If indeed Christ has taken to himself the flesh of our body; and that man who was born from Mary was indeed Christ; and we indeed receive in a mystery the flesh of his body; then because of this we shall be one, because the Father is in him and he in us. Thus, how can [the Sacrament as a mere] unity of will be maintained, recognizing that the special property of nature received through the Sacrament is the Sacrament of a perfect unity?

St. Augustine, from Tractates on the Gospel of St. John

Whereas people desire meat and drink to satisfy hunger and thirst, real satisfaction is produced only by that meat and drink that make the receivers of it immortal and incorruptible. He’s talking here about the fellowship of the saints where there is peace and unity full and perfect…. Our Lord has chosen for the types of his Body and Blood things that become one out of many. Bread is a quantity of grains united into one mass, wine a quantity of grapes squeezed together. “He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him.” So then to partake of that meat and that drink is to dwell in Christ and Christ in you. Whoever does not dwell in Christ, and in whom Christ does not dwell, neither eats his flesh nor drinks his blood; rather, he eats and drinks the Sacrament unto his own damnation.



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