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Homily #3 of 5 – Bread of Life Discourse

Here is this week’s homily from the Bread of Life Discourse

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
1 Kings 19:4-8
Ephesians 4:30-5:2
John 6:41-51
August 5, 2012

Elijah has apparently decided to give up but why?

If you go back and read the whole story, you will see this comes shortly after the famous story of Elijah’s “battle” with the prophets of Baal.  

Of course, Elijah wins because he is a prophet of the true God.  But right after that Jezebel, wife of King Ahab sets out to have Elijah killed.  So, he is fleeing for his life.

That brings us to today’s passage.  Elijah is hiding.  He thinks that there is nothing more he can do.  But God sends the angel to feed him and Elijah is strengthened for a forty day journey to Mount Horeb.

This was not ordinary food that God offered to Elijah.  Elijah was really down and God offered him this great food.

God offers us a great food.  It is the Bread of Life, the Body and Blood of Jesus, the precious gift of the Eucharist.

We come here today seeking the Bread of Life.  We each come from wherever we are at in our lives.  Things might be going great.  Or things might not be good and that might be why we are here.  

When things are going great, we can come to give thanks.  When things are bad, that can be exactly what draws us to Jesus.  When things are bad, we come to realize how much we need God.

Whatever our circumstances, God is with us.  God offers us the Bread of Life.  It is the food that nourishes our souls.  It is the Body of Christ.

We might ask how what looks like bread and wine be the Body and Blood of Jesus.  It can be hard to understand.

It reminds of the disciples who heard Jesus say, “I am the bread that comes down from Heaven.”  They couldn’t understand how Jesus could be the “bread that comes down from Heaven.”

But, surprisingly, it wasn’t the bread part that they struggled with first.  They knew Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph.  They knew he had been born into humanity just like everyone else.  So, for Jesus to say he came down from Heaven would be impossible.  Humans didn’t come down from Heaven.  Angels yes, people no.

So, they struggled with what he said and it will only get more difficult for them to understand what he is saying as we go on to hear the rest of the Bread of Life Discourse over the next two weeks.

To be Catholic isn’t always easy.  It isn’t always popular.  Believing in God doesn’t make us the “in crowd.”  How many different prophets are the Old Testament were persecuted for preaching God’s truth because the people didn’t want to hear it.

Elijah might have been wondering why God allowed Jezebel to try to kill him.  Of course, in the end she did not succeed!

Jesus could have wondered, no not that he could have wondered, he did wonder why he had to suffer persecution and Crucifixion.  Of course, Jesus knew the answer, because he loved us and to redeem us out of his love he accepted his suffering even though it made no sense in human terms.

We don’t understand why some things are the way they are.  We don’t understand everything God tells us.  

But we can believe!

We believe that God is all-knowing and all-powerful.  

We believe God loves us and cares for us.  

We believe that Jesus died for us.

We believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life.

We believe that we receive the Bread of Life, the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist.  We don’t understand but we believe because Jesus said ‘This is my body’ and ‘This is my blood’.

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