NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2018)
1 Kings 19:4-8
You won’t find Elijah’s prayer from our first reading from 1 Kings in any extended collection of prayers for believers. “This is enough, O Lord!,” Elijah states with obvious frustration. “Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” Elijah is fed up and weary. He has been doing the Lord’s bidding, and it has done nothing but cause him a great deal of trouble. If slaying the several hundred prophets of Baal wasn’t bad enough (this did not endear him to a great many people!), he has seriously upset Jezebel who is seeking to kill him. Elijah is on the run and he is at wit’s end. Elijah just wants to die, and so he lays down under the broom tree and prays for death.
While this unorthodox prayer of Elijah will not find its way into any official prayer book, it surely does display feelings which are not completely foreign to most of us. Indeed, the share of life’s burdens are not distributed evenly, and there are times when many are tired and overwhelmed, unable to move forward or face the light of another day. Like Elijah, we just want a time out. We want the pain to go away, the upset to disappear, the anxiety to lessen, the work to diminish, the responsibilities to end. Yes, the example of Elijah should bring us great comfort, and cause whatever guilt we might feel for thinking this way to disappear.
It is when Elijah appears to be at his lowest that God comes to him, touches his heart, and nourishes him. And he does this not once, but twice, as if once was just not enough. God is persistent; He does not give up easily. There was still more for Elijah to do before his time on this earth would end. Since, as the Psalmist tells us, “the Lord encamped around those who fear him and delivers them,” all Elijah had to do was “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”
In the fullness of time God sent His only Son into the world that all people might be reunited with their loving God and enjoy eternal life. The world was weary, and it had lost its way, and it was Jesus who would teach them how to get back to God and the things of God. Like Elijah the people were murmuring, always murmuring. “God, we’re tired” – in Jesus they would find rest! “God, we’re lost” – in Jesus they would find their Way! “God, we’re hungry” – in Jesus they would find the bread from heaven, which would satisfy their most profound of hungers, for “whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
The sign of the feeding of the five thousand in John’s gospel is intended to lead the people to hunger after that food that satisfies the longings of the soul, and when Jesus declares that He himself is that bread, the crowd is confused and they murmur. In Jesus, God is doing what God has done from the beginning of time. God has “lifted up the lowly,” raised up those who were down, saved the people from their “distress,” and fed the hungry. God did it for Abraham and Moses, for the Judges and the Prophets, and now he does it for all people in His Son, Jesus. As God came to Elijah in his lowest moment and nourished him, so also does He come to us when we are down, nourishing us with His very Body and Blood. John’s gospel beautifully proclaims that the Eucharist is food for the journey of life, and it is the Eucharist that strengthens us to be “imitators of God,” who “live in love, as Christ loved us.” When we are tired and weary, and we seem like we just cannot go on, let us, with grateful hearts, be nourished by the bread that came down from heaven, recognizing that our communion with the Lord will enable us to “be kind to one another,” and “compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven” us in Christ (Eph. 5:2).
1 thought on “NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2018)”
It is so true that lifes burdebs are not distributed eveny…..this for me is the best way to evangelize…… go to Jesus and be refreshed…………. he can calm the mighty ocenas he can calm us……….I didnt feel like gong to Mass today in our parish but I am so glad i made the effort. After Mass i chatted with a few ladies for a minute- one lady had a broken wrist from a fall…(cheerful widow and old) …….. one had a hip replacemnt recently..ready to keep going ..she asked about the farmer who had cellulits as she is always thinkin of others!) and one friend I spoke to this week has her” husband in memory care” now………. the best way to get over our burdens is to hear the burdens of others and be compassonate to them……. We received the bread of life in Communion ………. the eucharist………. knowing that Jesus suffered even much more then we might suffer,,,it was my chance to talk with Jesus and let him know my problems or problems of those I know and love— or don’t much know but heard about–in the news or via the grapevine– and give Him my thanks ……….. give HIM my woes and concernes ….. I prayed ”for greater unity among people in our country and in our church today…..” I know God heard my prayer….this was my food for the journey today–I hope it makes me kinder person today…maybe even for two days? I will need to return to that Eucharist often…I forget all that He has done and does for us!
I even prayed for others who ‘annoy’ me …or whom I see as unloving .. I prayed too for Fr Christopher to be treated with justice and respect . I thank Jesus for HIS burden /His gift of dying on the cross …….(I looked at our cruicix on the wall at chrch and recalled the one at St Isabeles in Florida! I love thatbeautiful gift he gave us all!) …… we all die a little each day when we too at times suffer … .but God is always there for us… as always…he has proven that so often at so many other times in our lives. Be persistent as Elijah was………we can do it!No matter the burden— we have the Eucharist to turn to…..a gift like no other to each of us! Thank you to whoever sent this reading – I heard it at Mass this morning and FATHER FESTUS IN OUR PARISH GAVE A VERY GOOD HOMILY ON IT TOO..life is sometimes better than other times… we go forward and I always say ‘ never go back’ — we keep our eyes on the Prize of waht awaits us when die….remembering- all things are possible for those who love God……God knows our hearts and He knows our wishes and He never fails to give us what He knows is best……. but we do believe in asking for waht we want and need!!peace for all who suffer injustice ..! Amen! Mary Jo