NOTE:  I will retire as abbot on December 12, 2018.  I have been writing these homilies since the First Sunday of Advent in 1997.  I will no longer write these homilies.  My last homily will be published for the Solemnity of Christ in the King, November 25, 2018.  Another brother will begin to write the weekly homily for the upcoming Sunday liturgy.  So the homilies will continue, but with another author.  Abbot Philip

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time  –  Cycle B  –  2018

FIRST READING                     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.

SECOND READING                  Ephesians 4:30-5:2

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                John 6:41-51

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.”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

“Strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.”  Wow!  Strong spiritual food that gave incredible strength.  The most important aspect of this account is that Elijah trusted in God’s Word.  All of us can do more than we believe we can do when we trust in the Word of the Lord.

This first reading today, from the First Book of Kings, tells about the Prophet Elijah.  This prophet is so human and like us.  He is tired of the spiritual journey and he is tired of having to serve God and have no support at all.  So he asks to die.  Instead, the angel of God, perhaps God Himself, tells Elijah to get up and eat and to go to Horeb, the mountain of God.  The important aspect that we must notice is that Elijah obeys God.  This is the heart of our spiritual life.  This is how each one of us wants to live even when we are not faithful.  Like Elijah, we must work with all our energy to obey the Lord!

The second reading is from the Letter to the Ephesians.  This short section is an instruction about how to live a life in accordance with our faith in Jesus Christ.  It is so easy to leave the Lord Jesus and follow other ways of thinking and living.  Instead, we are told that if we want to live in a fully human way, we must also live deeply the life of the Spirit.  The life of the Spirit is seen by living in love, as Christ has loved us.  That means that we must be willing to give up our lives for the love of others.  Pretty strong!

The Gospel from Saint John today is about Jesus being the bread that God sends us from heaven.  Again this is a strong teaching and one that many people simply cannot accept.  Even in the time of Jesus disciples left Jesus because of His saying:  You must eat my flesh and drink my blood.

In the early Church some were accused of cannibalism because this teaching about eating and drinking was so strong.  Jesus wants us to become Him so He gives Himself to us as our food.  With most food, the food becomes us when we eat it.  With the bread from heaven, the Holy Eucharist, we become Jesus when we eat it.

With the Eucharist, we also can walk to Mount Horeb, to the mountain of the Lord.  We can meet the Lord personally and be at home with Him.  Only faith guides us on this path.  To walk with the Lord, we must love others and sacrifice our lives for them.  We will be transfigured by this God who loves us.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip