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.”
Jesus brings us life and strength every day, even when we pay no attention to Him. Today He invites us to know Him more and to know His presence as our sustenance. We are always walking through a desert and always need food and drink.
The First Book of Kings today speaks to us about Elijah, one of God’s chosen prophets. Real prophets are often told to do the impossible and then God helps them do what seemed impossible. We modern Christians are supposed to be prophets in our world today, proclaiming the word of God by our way of living and loving others.
For Elijah, God sends the food that is necessary. One small meal was enough for Elijah to walk forty days and forty nights to meet the Lord. Two things strike us immediately: how could that possibly be enough food? Why forty days and forty nights?
Food from heaven is always more sustaining that regular food. When God gives us food, it sustains us beyond what we can imagine. Forty is almost always a symbol of the limit of endurance. Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights when he goes into the wilderness. The chosen people wander for forty years in the desert. Moses speaks to God for forty days and forty nights on the mountain. When the floods come in the time of Noah, it rains for forty days and forty nights.
God will always take care of us, to the very limit of our endurance. God always sustains us. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. All the Lord asks of us is that we be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. It always sound so simple. Why is it so difficult to live this way?
Only if we choose to be fed with the food from heaven will we have the strength we need to live for God and to love one another. Let us open our hearts today to understand this God who loves us and sends us His Son as food. Let us eat the bread of heaven and drink to blood of the Son of God so that we can live.