1 Kings 19:4-8
Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. 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.
Brothers and sisters: 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.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven, ” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 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.”
Like Elijah, there are times in our lives when we feel that we cannot go on without some divine help. There are times when we feel abandoned by God and by any spiritual comfort. Especially if we are people who try to pray daily and even more frequently, if we are people who try to be faithful to God, then we feel this abandonment even more.
Elijah just gives up! And we can also give up. Like Elijah, however, it is often in the very act of giving up that God comes to help us. Truly the whole struggle of life is to learn how to give up and to hand our lives over to God and to finally recognize that God does His will in our lives.
In the Gospel we have another account of people who knew Jesus rejecting Him because they cannot see through His humanity to His relationship with the Father. We also experience this. Right now, in the United States, the Catholic Church has been going through an enormous purification process. Many people find it impossible to see the divinity of Christ present in the Catholic Church because of the sins of so many of the priests and the bishops.
But it is the same daily challenge wherever we live because the Church is made of sinners seeking redemption in Jesus Christ. Only when we become deeply aware of our own sinfulness and our inability to heal that sinfulness simply by ourselves do we come to recognize divinity dwelling in sinners and in the Church.
The history of the Church is filled with self-righteousness because we sinners make up the Church in the Jesus Christ. Yet, in spite of that, the soul of the Church is the Holy Spirit and that Spirit shines through when we have eyes of faith.
Jesus invites His followers today: I am the bread of life. He who eats this bread will live forever.
So we are invited, now matter how weary we are of living, to eat this living bread once again and to trust that God will send divine help to us in our needs. That help may not come until the instant that we hand over our lives entirely but it can come at time. Our task is to believe in Jesus and to trust that in Him we shall have life.
These words are not always so comforting when we are facing difficult or even impossible situations yet we can cling to these words of hope with all our trust for God has promised us.