1 Kings 19:4-8 Psalm 34:2-9 Ephesians 4:30-5:2 John 6:41-51
[In preparing for this Sunday, I came upon a reflection by Fr. John Foley, SJ on the St. Louis University website, liturgy.slu.edu. I find it to be very meaningful and enriching, and so I share it with you. I’ve taken the liberty of making it more personal by changing some pronouns near the end. I hope it enriches your Sunday and your life as it has mine.
Sister Marian Baumler ]
Caring for Us
The story told in the First Reading was in the land ruled by Queen Jezebel. The prophet Elijah had just come from a dangerous showdown with 450 prophets of the god called Baal. The God of Israel easily won this encounter, and Elijah progressed into doing great violence against the surviving prophets. Queen Jezebel was understandably enraged and sent a message that she would do the same thing to Elijah and more within that same day.
[Elijah], frightened, exhausted and dispirited—especially when he came back to find the Israelites themselves being unfaithful to the only true God—became depressed, in spite of his great triumph. He prayed to God to give immediate death to his worthless self. Then he went to sleep…
God could have been harsh to Elijah because of such a despondent prayer. But instead, a quiet touch from God’s angel awakened him. The angel whispered, “Get up and eat.” There at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. Elijah did eat and drink, but then he settled right back to sleep again.
The angel whispered tenderly, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” Elijah did this and was strengthened. Then he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God. In this we are witnessing a mother’s care, giving food to her discouraged, grumpy child.
The other readings are all about God’s kindness too; his goodness even in small things.The Psalm invites us to share in [God’s goodness]: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. … I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
In the Gospel, Jesus too offers nourishment, this time provisions for a very long journey indeed - eternal life. The people listening … will not have a bit of it. They argue among themselves, ridiculing his silly offer of miraculous food. They “murmur” that they knew his parents, and this made him just a local boy acting crazy. Jesus ordered them to stop grousing and listen. He made the same comparison that we saw last week, between the manna … and himself, “the living bread that came down from heaven.”
Jesus as living bread is a bit difficult to understand. But leave that aside for a moment and just concentrate on the deliberate kindness God shows to [us]: feeding [us], giving [us] drink, pursuing [us] again and again in order to offer the greatest gift of all, God’s sacrificial love for [us]. God [follows us/me] quietly, gently.
How can we respond? Receiving the living bread in Communion is a beginning. Reflecting on the mellowness of God is another. And simply slowing down, stopping [my] running away and instead letting the Lord find [me]. God’s kindhearted, tough love is quite worth the struggle. God is the one who will send [me] into the world (if he can catch [me]!).
Fr. John Foley, SJ (liturgy.slu.edu)
-S. Marian Baumler
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221