First Reading: 1 Kgs 19:4-8
Psalm: Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: Eph 4:30-5:2
Gospel Reading: John 6:41-51
Sometimes things in are lives are so horrible, we say we just want to die. Most of the time we mean that metaphorically. In this day and age - it seems as if we are living in the trenches? Aren't we? Just yesterday, I was having a thought proking conversation with my co-author of this blog - Roy Larson - about the current political climate in the United States of America, and what it will be like in our country from now until the time of election in November. We both had very interesting takes on all sorts of topisc concerning the upcoming election, the governement, and how citizens of the United States are responding (or not) to the current climate.
That same climate was present during the days of Jesus, and even during the time of the great trials and tribulations of the Jewish people. Elijah, in today's first reading, seems to mean litereally - "that he just wants to die!" He is fleeing for his life, as Jezebel is determined to kill him because he vanquished the prophets of Baal and put them to death. Parking himself under a broom tree a day's journey into the desert, he prays, "This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am not better than my fathers." It is not clear whether Elijah is fed up with the difficulty of his ministry or whether he is lamenting his own actions, having just killed the prophets of Baal. Perhaps it is both. When Elijah is at his lowest point, God's messenger comes with food and water, urging him to continue onward. Obediently, he gets up and takes nourishment, continuing his sojourn in the desert for forty more days, a trek that is reminiscent of the Israelite desert wandering of forty years. Elijah's quest will culminate at Mount Horeb (also called Sinai in the J and P strands of the Pentateuchal narrative). There, like Moses, he encounters God.
Barabara E. Reid, OP, in her book, Abiding Word: Sunday Reflections for Year B, says this:
"But the Holy One is not in the fierce wind or earthquake or the fire but in the voice that emerges out of sheer silence. The divine voice instructs him (Elijah) to anoint kings over Aram and Israel and to anoint Elisha as prophet to take his place. This last part of the narrative is not included in today's reading. When read as a whole, however, the story points us to the ways in which God can tame the fierceness in us, when, like Elijah, our passion for justice can find us in bloody battle with opponents. We emerge victorious, but at what cost? In the desert Elijah learns of God's nonviolent ways. He does not find the Holy One in the violent wind or earthquake or fire but in the silence that instructs him to anoint others: an act of consecreation and also of healing."
In today's Gospel, Jesus gives us the secret of union with God. He teaches that everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him will come to him. By listening to the Father through prayerful stillness and the experiences of his goodness within our lives, we shall all be taught by God. What a beautiful image - to be drawn by the Father to Jesus. THe Greek very used here actually has the sense of a magnetic pull or attraction. Do we yeild ourselves to its force or resist? With Jesus, we make our way to our heavenly home and to eternal life. Lest the journey be too much for us, we are nourish with the bread of life, Jesus sacrificial offering of himself.
Throughout the next several months, as we journey towards our national election, let us be mindful of the non violent ways that Elijah discovered from God. May justice be granted for all peoples - of all nations, creed, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, race, and disability. May all people of the world be treated with dignity and respect, and may we respond to the needs of others. As Jesus says in today's Gospel, "Whoever eats this bread will live forever." May we give the bread of life (spiritual and physical) to the "least of these" in our society.
May the communion in your Sacrament that we have consumed, save us, O Lord, and confirm us in the light of your truth. Through Christ our Lord.
(Prayer after Communion, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Third Edition of the Roman Missal, 2010)