Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Reading #1 – 1 Kings 19:4-8
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)
Today we hear about the prophet Elijah and his feelings of utter desolation. Elijah, perhaps the most key prophet in the Old Testament, has been fleeing the wrath of Jezebel. She was the wife of a bad king (Ahab) and encouraged the worship of idols and the killing of prophets.
Elijah’s very life is in danger. He was told to travel 40 days to the mountain of God (of note is that Moses also spent 40 days and nights atop this mountain with God).He has lost all hope and feels nothing good can come from anything he can do. He asks God to take his life. But God sent an angel to Elijah during the night. When he woke,
“Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.”
We need food for the journey. We need Eucharist for the journey – especially on bad days. On days we feel void of all ideas, positive feelings, and negativity is setting in. Let us always find the strength to get up, eat, and drink so that we might carry on our journey. God is always walking with us.
Psalm 34: Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)
We can hear what Elijah might have been thinking or feeling in these verses, including a visit from the angel around the camp where he slept:
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
Reading 2;EPH 4:30—5:2
(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).
Saint Paul today reminds us to eschew negativity in our daily lives and embrace love. To ourselves, to one another, and to God. I’ve bolded the words or phrases that struck a chord with me. Which words or phrases strike you? Where are you on your journey, and what do you need to hear today?
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice.
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
John 6: 41-51
(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)
The gospel today is a scene in which Jesus and the Jews are in a conversation – where there’s a lot of murmuring about Jesus – as they try to decipher Jesus’s claim that He is the Way to eternal life – that He is the bread that came down from Heaven. We are knee-deep in John 6 – the chapter that puzzles us all but is also at the root of our core beliefs as Catholics.
Jesus sounds like a bit of a broken record; every week, all month, we keep hearing the same thing. I am the bread of life. I am the bread from Heaven. To the Father through ME. Everlasting life is yours, but only through me. Come, follow me.
Next week the Jews will quarrel still more. The following week’s gospel, the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, everything will come to a head. We’ll hear the disciples say, “This is a hard saying, who can accept it?” But today? We’re still in confusion.
Murmuring is a key word for us to consider today. This morning’s homily focused on how murmuring (gossiping, idle talk, etc) often leads to negative thoughts and thus actions and beliefs. We must focus instead on the light – on the love of God as St. Paul reminds us in the 2nd reading. We must come to God not with a white flag of surrender as Elijah did, but with a hopeful and trusting heart. A heart that reflects the knowledge that God can do anything.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”