On this 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time of Year B, we hear of the time when Elijah was on a journey and “prayed for death.” This comes shortly after Elijah defeated the 450 prophets of Baal (See 1 Kings 18). Following that, Jezebel, the wife of King Ahaz, plotted to kill Elijah for defeating them (see 1 Kings 19:1-3). So, Elijah is worn out from fleeing from her wraith.
Thus, this is when “he prayed for death.” He continued, saying to the Lord, “Take my life.” The Lord did take Elijah’s life but not in death but in service. God had plans for what Elijah had yet to do. To strengthen Elijah on his journey, the Lord sent an angel with a hearth cake, the food that strengthened Elijah for his journey.
Jesus offers us “Bread from Heaven” for our journey our faith.
When Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from Heaven,” the Jews murmured because they thought they was impossible. They knew Jesus as the son of Joseph and Mary. They knew his life story so they thought He was speaking nonsense when He said, “I have come down from heaven.” They knew of his human origin. They closed themselves to know his divine origin. Thus, they could not see him as “the bread that came down from heaven.”
How many people do not believe in the Real Presence because they think it is impossible that bread and wine could be transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus? They insist that it still looks like bread and wine that it has not been changed. Just as many of the Jews closed themselves off to Jesus’ divine origin, they close themselves off to the possibility that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus.
We know this from Jesus’ own words. We know it in faith (see my homily from last week).
Those who ate the manna in the desert still died. We who eat the “living bread that came down from heaven….will live forever.” This too would trouble the Jews. They knew everyone dies. From their perspective they are right, everyone does die an earthly death. Jesus was not speaking of earthly death. He was speaking of eternal life. We who eat “this bread will live forever.”