Sunday Scriptures

Heeding Words of Wisdom

I WAS TRULY BLESSED to have both my maternal and paternal grandmothers with me for most of my years growing up.

My grandmothers, most especially my mother’s mother, had a way of imparting words of wisdom upon my sister and me. Both have now gone home to God, but I can clearly remember those times when we visited my grandparents that somewhere during the visit they would impart words of wisdom.

When I was 16 years old, I got into some major trouble at school, in which both my parents had to be called to pick me up. The incident, of course, involved “friends” with whom I should not have associated myself. My parents would always tell me: “Don’t be a follower, be a leader.” Unfortunately, I did the complete opposite and followed my friends into big trouble.

Whenever my sister or I got into trouble at school or at home, my maternal grandmother seemed to always find out. She knew every detail of what had happened. The week after my incident at school we made one of our usual visits to her house and before we left to go home, my grandmother summoned me into her room to impart her words of wisdom. I immediately think of her as we reflect on today’s second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.

St. Paul is imparting words of wisdom upon the Ephesians, telling them that they need to be watchful of how they are living. Paul even warns them that evil awaits them if they do not change their ways. “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15).

Forsake Foolishness

We hear in today’s first reading from the Book of Proverbs that we have to forsake foolishness and advance in the way of understanding. As I grew older, I became more and more appreciative of the words of wisdom that were imparted to me by my grandmother. As a young priest, and now a young pastor, I am even more appreciative of the words of wisdom that are imparted to me by the senior priests of our diocese.

Today’s Gospel passage is the end of St. John’s Bread of Life discourse. Jesus continues to tell us that He is the living bread that comes down from heaven to earth to sustain all of our needs. Jesus truly makes His dwelling within our very selves, when we eat of His flesh and drink of His blood. It is through the Eucharist that we come to experience the love that God has for us.

Very recently, one of our senior priests of the diocese imparted some words of wisdom to me, with regards to being a brand new pastor. He said, “Never make a major decision without first bringing it before Jesus, because after all it’s in his image and likeness that you minister in.”

It is my prayer everyday that Christ will continue to be at the core of who I am not only as a priest, but also as a disciple. Let us pray that as a community of believers, we will all be sustained and nourished by Christ the Lord, who gives us the strength and courage we need to be faithful, holy and wise in all we say and do.

Readings for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time  

Proverbs 9: 1-6

Psalm 34: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Ephesians 5: 15-20

John 6: 51-58


Father Alonzo Q. Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and the diocesan coordinator of ministry to African-American immigrants.