CATHOLIC HOMILY FOR THE 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: BREAD FROM HEAVEN
BY: Fr. Gerald Musa
HOMILY: I wish to remind you of that famous story of a churchgoer who wrote to an editor of a newspaper saying, he has been going to church in the last 30 years and heard thousands of sermons and cannot even remember all of them. He thought there was no need to continue to go to Church and no need to listen to any more sermons. Later on, someone replied him saying, he’s been married for over thirty years and his wife since then cooked so many dishes and he cannot even remember all the different kinds of food she served. He said all the different kinds of food he ate gave him energy to carry out his everyday task. In the same way, he says, he’s been going to church and has been receiving spiritual nourishment through the word of God and by receiving Holy Communion.
The prophet Elijah really needed nourishment in the form of encouragement and support after he had a battle with the prophets of Baal. His life was in danger as Jezebel the wife of King Ahab sought to kill him. Elijah felt so lonely and abandoned and “He asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life.” He lay down to sleep waiting for death to carry him away. God was watching him with a loving gaze and he sent an angel with baked bread and a jar of water for Elijah. The Angel said to Elijah, “Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you.” After eating that bread and drinking the water, he had the strength to walk for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
It is therefore not surprising that before Jesus departed from this world, he deemed it necessary to give his followers a kind of food different from the normal food on the regular menu. He organised a special dinner for his disciples and there he served them with bread, which he sanctified and called his body and with wine which he consecrated and called his blood. He requested they continue to eat the body and drink the blood to remember he is there with them always. He offered himself, in the form of bread to his disciples. He emphatically states: I am the bread of life…the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die spiritually or die in perpetual frustration or despair. This body and blood are called communion because those who eat and drink this spiritual food come into a spiritual union with Jesus. It is in that kind of union that St. Paul exclaims “It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 5:19).
When we ask God to give us our daily bread, we are not only asking for ordinary bread or physical food alone. We are also asking for spiritual food that nourishes the soul. Like Elijah, we sometimes come to a point in our lives when we get into one crisis or the other, emotional, financial, career, marital. In those moments we crave and long for that spiritual food that will give us nourishment to move on with life. Venerable Charles de Foucauld reminds us “Communion is more than life, more than all the goods of this world, more than the entire universe. It is God himself, it is Jesus. Can you prefer anything else? If you love Jesus sincerely, can you wilfully lose the grace of his coming within you? Jesus asks you to love him with all the energy and the simplicity of your heart.”
19TH Sunday of the Year B/ 1 Kings 19:4-8; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51