12th August, 2012 Readings: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fed by God
This week’s readings tell of the episode where Elijah, after running for so long, tells God he’d rather be dead. He is exhausted. After sleep has overcome him, he awakes to find that food has been prepared for him by an angel of the Lord. This would be the food that would give him sustenance for the 40 day journey to the
mountain of God.
The Gospel has itself two parts. The first is that Jesus comes from God and is God. No one can come to the Father except through me. And no one can come to me except when he is drawn by the father.” The second part of the Gospel is that Jesus continues to say that he is the bread of life. The bread that has come down
from heaven. That anyone who believes in him and eats of this bread will live forever.
I have to admit that I don’t really like reflecting on readings that do not haveparables or stories. It is a lot easier to reflect on a parable, and interpret it as partof the reflection than actually reflecting on words like “I am the bread of Life”.
But I shall try.
When I read the readings for a first time, I felt that I really could connect to it.I am feeling really drained as of current, and like Elijah, I would really rather just lie down on the ground and sleep, and tell God, maybe later. Later, I will complete the tasks at hand. Later.
But I guess, when later means now, you would just have to grit your teeth and perform the duty that has been endowed upon us. Be it writing this reflection; be it writing an internship report; be it going for some bonding activity with the newcomers that leaves you with an aching back and sore thighs. – I ‘d rather much stay at home and sleep.
But doing the will of God, to find God on his mountain requires no little effort. In the case of Elijah, it was effort enough to last a journey of 40 days and 40 nights. Perhaps it can be said here now that God provides us enough sustenance for our journey. Whether we decide to complete the journey is another thing altogether.
I guess this is a good juncture to put in a reflection question:
Have you ever got into difficulty as a result of obedience to God? Have you ever said to God: ‘this is enough’? Is there any painful purifying of the Church that you find particularly difficult to participate in and endure?
I’m pretty sure all of us have encountered these types of situations and emotions before. How do we cope about this? Do we pray to God for the strength to go about our daily tasks? Do we ask God for the sustenance, for the inner strength and grace to continue to do what we find so tiring?
The Gospel this week provides a lot of theological insight into the nature of God. On the basic level, it tells us that God is the provider for our sustenance, the source of all food eternal. It also gives us a glimpse into the divine nature of Jesus, and a peek into the nature of the trinity.
However, unlike Elijah, the people in “murmurs” do not choose to believe in the word of Jesus/God. It is useful to note that the Jewish people treated the word from Moses as the “spiritual food”. But now here comes Jesus, claiming that he is the food and the source of life eternal. All these are happening as Jesus explains to them that prophecies are being fulfilled in Him; that they are being taught by God himself, and still they do not choose to believe. They do not see Him as food for the world, but only see Him as the flesh of Mary and Joseph.
This gospel also puts forth a proposition that the only way God can be truly revealed is that someone must come from God and live among us. This is indeed the hope of the Jewish people. But because they are so satisfied that the word of God is in the law of God, they choose not to accept the word of God that is the person of God.
From this Gospel, we can appreciate that what was seen as spiritual food, which was the word of God in the form of the law from Moses, has now evolved into the being of Jesus. Where God himself now teaches us. Jesus claims he is this person truly ‘from’ God, has ‘seen’ God. This is the claim of Christianity that sets us apart from other world religions. Because Jesus is divine – God – among – us what he promises to give us – his flesh and blood – he can and will do.
So today, let us say to God as Elijah said, “Take my life.” Not in the sense of wanting to die, but in wanting to give ourselves as a sacrificial offering. Loving Him as He loved us, on the cross and in the Eucharist, which is to be given to us as our spiritual food.