19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – August 12, 2018

This Sunday’s Theme: Our Obedient Belief in Jesus Equips Us for Heaven.

We believe in a loving God, and in His divine Son, Jesus Christ, who came on earth to bring us to heaven, and in the Holy Spirit who helps us complete the work of sanctification in us. Our faith is a gift from God and the Holy Spirit helps us develop our faith into obedient belief which makes it possible to know and properly follow Jesus. The knowledge that our Christian faith gives us concerns both our eternity and our journey toward it.

In Reading 1, Elijah receives and accepts the sustenance, from an angel of the Lord, that is necessary for his journey to heaven. Reading 2 identifies those acceptable behaviors on our journey to heaven that will make us acceptable to God when we arrive there. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us about His role in sustaining us and enabling us, if we cooperate with Him, to live the proper life for a successful journey to heaven.

Reading 1 – 1 Kings 19:4-8     The Lord feeds Elijah, strengthening him for his journey to Horeb.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 34:2-9     A prayer of praise to God for His goodness.

Reading 2 – Ephesians 4:30—5:2     The Ephesians are encouraged to be imitators of Christ.

Gospel – John 6:41-51     Jesus responds to the murmurs of the crowd, who wonders what He means when He says that He came down from heaven.

Reading 1     1 Kings 19:4-8              (Supernatural Food)

Context – Kings 1 & 2, records the events of the reign of Solomon (970 – 930 BC) and then the succeeding kings of Judah and Israel (930 – 588 BC). (When Solomon died, the 12 Jewish tribes – ie. the 12 sons of Jacob, split into two separate Kingdoms – Judah, the southern Kingdom – made up of two tribes, and Israel, the northern Kingdom – made up of ten tribes.) After King Solomon, God no longer used the kingship to be the medium through which He governed His people but instead chose to use prophets for this function. Elijah was one of the most outstanding prophets and was from the northern Kingdom.
Today’s Reading – King Ahab and his Queen Jezebel have banished Elijah from his homeland because he was trying to convert the people from worshiping the god Baal. To escape their wrath, Elijah journeys out into the desert, not to pray for strength to continue his journey but to pray for death. “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life.”  Then an angel of the Lord visits the discouraged prophet— not once but twice. Strengthened by “food from heaven,” Elijah gets up and walks forty days and forty nights to the mountain of Horeb (another name for Sinai) where Moses encountered God. There he will be blessed with another intimate experience of God and recommissioned as a prophet to his people.

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an 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 drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”  He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food
[i], he walked forty days[ii] and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb[iii].

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         How many times have we said “enough is enough”? We get overwhelmed by the apparent overload of our “crosses” to bear and for some, suicide is contemplated. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the USA. Even the great prophet Elijah contemplated death as the answer to his problems. Apparently, he thought he should have been totally successful in eliminating the worship of the pagan god Baal by converting all the people to worship the God of Abraham. His efforts failed and he was in flight for his life from queen Jezebel because of these failed conversion efforts. Thankfully he quieted himself and opened his mind to the guidance of the Lord, which came to him through an angel, and he was able to continue to go forward as the great prophet he was. The Lord speaks to us either directly and/or through those around us. We just need to put ourselves in His presence and then watch what happens. Trust in your prayers.  

Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 34:2-9                       (Refuge in God)

Today’s Psalm – This is a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving. The invitation to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” is a perfect tie-in with Reading 1 and the Gospel.

R. – Taste (try, test, sample, experience, witness, receive) and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly
(humble) will hear me and be glad.
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me, Let us together extol His name. I sought the LORD, and He answered me And delivered me from all my fears.
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy. And your faces may not blush with shame. When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard, And from all his distress He saved him.
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him
[iv] and delivers them. Taste and see how good the LORD is; blessed the man who takes refuge in Him.[v]
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.    

Reading 2     Ephesians 4:30—5:2                              (Imitating God’s Goodness)

Context – Ephesians sets before us a vision of Christ reigning in Heaven next to the Father and renewing the earth through His Church. It shows God’s saving work through Jesus. The Church is nothing less than God’s new creation in Christ.
Today’s Reading – Paul continues to speak to the Ephesians about living their new life in Christ.  He exhorts them to “not grieve the Holy Spirit” by not engaging in “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling, or any kind of malice.” Then Paul points out attitudes and behaviors that will gladden the Holy Spirit, namely, compassion, forgiveness, and following the way of love!

Brothers and sisters: Do not grieve (sadden, offend, disobey, sin against) the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption[vi]. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed Himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma[vii].

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Gospel     John 6:41-51                                 (Jesus, The Living Bread)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of this Fourth Gospel.
Today’s Reading – Jesus talks about His unity with the Father. He is the one who has seen the Father and, therefore, knows the Father. Those who listen to God will recognize that Jesus is the one sent from God. Those who believe will have eternal life. Jesus concludes with the central element of our eucharistic theology: He promises that the bread of life will bring eternal life to those who partake of it, and He tells us that the bread of life will be His own flesh, given for the life of the world.

The Jews murmured about Jesus because He said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the Son of Joseph? Do we not know His father and mother? Then how can He say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”[viii] Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him[ix], and I will raise him on the last day[x]. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to My Father and learns from Him comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father[xi]. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; This is the Bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this Bread will live forever; and the Bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.”

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism 1355 – In the communion, preceded by the Lord’s prayer and the breaking of the bread, the faithful receive “the Bread of Heaven” and “the Cup of Salvation,” the body and blood of Christ who offered Himself “for the life of the world”:
Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist (“eucharisted,” according to an ancient expression), “we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless they believe that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught.”

Taste and See


Refrain: Taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord. O taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord, of the Lord.

 1. I will bless the Lord at all times. Praise shall always be on my lips; my soul shall glory in the Lord
for God has been so good to me. 

2. Glorify the Lord with me. Together let us all praise God’s name. I called the Lord who answered me;
from all my troubles I was set free. 

3. Worship the Lord, all you people. You’ll want for nothing if you ask. Taste and see that the Lord is good; in God we need put all our trust. (James E. Moore)

[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
“strengthened by that food” = This bread with which Elijah was fed in the wilderness, was a figure of the Bread of Life (Jesus), which we receive at Mass in the Blessed Sacrament: by the strength of which we are to be supported in our journey through the wilderness of this world, till we come to the true mountain of God, in a happy eternity.
[ii]  “forty days” = Forty, in Hebrew numerology, is the number associated with a “period of”, for example: trial (40 days in Lent), testing (after Jesus was baptized, He fasted 40 days in the desert and was tested by the devil), a time of change (rained for 40 days), a generation (40 years in the desert before going to the Promised Land).
[iii]  “Horeb” = Horeb is also called Sinai, the place where God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. It’s also the place of the incidences of “the burning bush” and “the worship of the golden calf”.
[iv]  Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“fear the Lord” = Love Him in good times and in bad, be obedient to Him, learn about Him, trust Him, tell others about Him, hate evil.
[v]  “take refuge in the Lord” = David called on the people to experience the Lord’s goodness personally by their obedient belief and by relying on Him in their times of distress.
[vi]  Reading 2 Footnotes:
“sealed by the Holy Spirit” = Our behavior is “sealed” by God’s Holy Spirit and so we are expected to be extraordinarily humane and gracious.                     
[vii]  “fragrant aroma” = Jesus’ self-sacrifice was pleasing and acceptable to God, as a sweet aroma.
[viii]  Gospel Footnotes:
Jesus said He came down from heaven = His claim to have come down from heaven seemed to the people of His home town to contradict what they knew about His human origins. They were thinking only in physical terms. The Incarnation of the Son of God in Jesus was and remains the great stumbling block in Christianity for the Jews.
[ix] “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him.” = God draws us to Himself by revealing Himself through Jesus. That enlightenment comes primarily through the Scriptures, God’s principle tool. God teaches people about Himself through Jesus. Listening to Jesus then becomes essential for learning from God. The result is eternal or everlasting life that the believer begins to enjoy the moment he or she believes in Jesus. All of this is part of what Jesus meant when He claimed to be the Bread of Life.
[x]  “I will raise them on the last day” = This is salvation for us and it results not only from belief, but believing so deeply that you act on that belief and “Do whatever He tells you”
[xi]  “He has seen the Father” = Jesus has seen the Father; He has come down from heaven. We can know God the Father only through the Son because He has seen Him and has come to reveal Him to us.