Homily of the XIX Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saint Louis King of France Parish –Memphis –TN
Father Carlos Donato
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!
Dear brothers and Sisters, every Sunday is a weekly celebration of the Pascal mystery of Christ, which is his death and resurrection. Each Sunday is also a Eucharistic day because we are convoked by the Father and united by the Holy Spirit to celebrate the memorial of Jesus’ sacrifice. In the daily celebration of the Eucharist in our altars we proclaim and wait the coming of our Lord while as his church we celebrate his memory through the pascal offering of breed and wine that become for us Jesus’ Most Precious Blood and his Most Holy Body which are the true food for the Journey to the heavenly Jerusalem until he comes again.
Today’s readings present us the Eucharist as the food for the Journey. On the first reading from the book of kings we find the prophet Elijah the man of God. He was the only prophet of God left in Israel. In the reading, Elijah was running away for his life after he had killed the false prophets of Baal at the Mount Carmel. We know the story. He defend the faith in the true God against the impious king and queen of Israel. Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal to make fire comes down from haven and consumes the offering prepared for idol Ball. The Ball’s prophets were not successful. No fire came from heaven. On the other hand Elijah invoking The God of Israel name made fire comes down from heaven and it consumed the whole offering at the altar of the Lord God of hosts. After that miracle Elijah full of zeal for the Lord, Zelus Zelatum suum pro Domino Deo Exercito, had killed by sword 400 prophets of the false god Baal.
After this had happen, Jezebel, the queen of Israel was looking for Elijah to kill him as a punishment for his behavior in defense of the True God. Elijah worrying for his life decided to go from Mount Carmel to the Mount Sinai (the Horeb). Elijah, tired from the journey through the desert asked God to take his life: “This is enough O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers”(1KGS 19). It probably was enough suffering for him but God still has a plan for him. Therefore, God comes to his aid. God sent his holy angel to give to Elijah a mysterious food! “Then the 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 drunk, he lay down again” (1KGS 19). Elijah wants death but God steady is giving him life through the mysterious food. For the second time the Angel ordered him to eat and drink because the Journey is long! “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you”(1KGS 19). After drink and eat Elijah was strengthened by that food that he was able to walk 40 days and 40 nights until the mountain of God, the Horeb.
The mysterious food given by heaven to Elijah at the first reading is now revealed by Jesus in the Gospel today. That food is a shadow of the Eucharist.
Commenting the Chapter VI of Saint John’s Gospel Pope Benedict XVI says: “The Reading of the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel in the Liturgy of these Sundays has led us to reflect on the multiplication of the loaves, with which the Lord satisfied the hunger of a crowd of five thousand, and on the invitation Jesus addresses to all those whom he had feed to busy themselves seeking a food that endures to eternal life. Jesus wants to help them understand the profound meaning of the miracle he had worked: in miraculously satisfying their physical hunger; he prepares them to receive the news that he is the Bread which has come down from heaven (cf. Jn 6:41), which will satisfy hunger for ever”. (Benedict XVI Angelus 08/12/12)
Jesus today proclaims himself the bread of life, who is able to gives eternal life to those who eats this celestial bread. He also makes mention of the Mana given to the Jewish people in the desert. This provisional food gave strength to the pilgrim people in their way to the Promised Land. The people who ate the Mana died at their time, but the food given by Jesus brings life everlasting. “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the mana in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die”(Jn 6).
“The Jewish people too, during their long journey through the desert, experienced bread which came down from heaven, manna, which kept them alive until they reached the Promised Land. Jesus now speaks of himself as the true Bread come down from heaven, which is capable of keeping people alive not for a moment or on a stretch of a journey but forever. He is the food that gives eternal life, because he is the Only-Begotten Son of God who is in the Father’s heart, who came to give man life in fullness, to introduce man into the very life of God.” (Benedict XVI). “I am the bread that come down from heaven”(Jn 6), says the Lord! He is the true food for our Journey. If we believe in him we will never be hunger and we will never day.
We must ask ourselves how much hunger do we have for this heavenly food. How frequently do we come to the table of the Lord? How do we prepare ourselves to meet the Lord in the Eucharist? How many time to we spent with him in the Blessed Sacrament? “And we must ask ourselves if we really feel this hunger, the hunger for the Word of God, the hunger to know life’s true meaning. Only those who are drawn by God the Father, who listen to him and let themselves be instructed by him can believe in Jesus, meet him and nourish themselves with him and thereby find true life, the road of life, justice, truth and love. St Augustine adds: “the Lord…. said that he himself was the Bread that came down from heaven, exhorting us to believe in him. For to believe in him is to eat the living bread. He that believes eats; he is sated invisibly, because invisibly he is born again” to a deeper and truer life. He is reborn from within, from his intimate self he is made new”. (Benedict XVI, Angelus 08/08/12).