YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: GOD IS OUR BREAD OF LIFE IN THIS FRUSTRATING EARTHLY JOURNEY.
BY: Rev. Fr Callistus Emenyonu, cmf.
READINGS: 1 Kings 19: 4-8, Ps 34, Eph. 4: 30-5:2, John 6:41-51
Life experience in this world can be very frustrating and offering us what we never expected or liked. It is worse when you have done all that is in your hand and left no fault from your own end and all you see is a surprising evil package. It becomes very painful and causing despair when you have called on God and the whole thing turns as if God pays a deaf ear or shows some unconcern attitude.
This was the predicament of Elijah the great prophet of God. He was faithful in his divine mission and was not lacking. He surely pleased God and we never saw where God complained against him or showed any dissatisfaction. God whom he was serving and who is all-powerful and able to do all things was silent watching the wicked Jezebel and Ahab the weakling and stooge destroy and kill all the good prophets of God. Elijah wondered if God has changed or decided to watch the wicked triumphant when he knows that God can change the situation. Does it mean that God is now on the side of the evil people or that he has allowed them to show their prowess over the good obedient children of God? He was troubled at this situation that he alone is left as the prophet of God in Israel.
At that time, there was still the experience of famine and drought in the land of Israel. The whole life of Elijah was very frustrating and despair was about to set in. This led Elijah into a day’s journey into the wilderness to bemoan his frustrated predicament and perhaps be alone and die alone. Yes, he has asked that he might die instead of living. Beloved, you might at times be in the frustrating situation and going through a very painful life situation and what comes to your mind would be an option for death. This is what makes some people to contemplate and execute suicide and mental crisis. Some also lose faith in God and refuse even to pray and worship God since it seems their old long faithful life has yielded nothing. Some take the option for the devil’s cult and worship, joining secret cult and going to pagan gods and fake pastors in search of remedy. This makes our people say: Onye afo n’aru amaghi ohia ojoo. (The person having diarrhoea does not know the bad or prohibited bush).
Beloved as we go through this crisis and frustration of life God has a plan for our rescue and salvation. It was in this desperation that God sent his angel to minister hope, love, care thoughtfulness and concern to Elijah. God sent him the viaticum (supporting meal/bread for those on a journey). He was not expecting it and it was more than what he wanted. He ate and felt satisfied but God gave him more to eat since his journey of life is still ongoing and sorrow not ended. God does not give us troubles that his grace and strength would not supply. He is that bread of encouragement and food of life that we need in moments of crisis and confusion. That bread that sustained him for a journey of 40days was God’s grace and support. This bread of life which is Christ is what Jesus spoke concerning himself and yet the unbelievers like the Jews did not understand but objected.
Many who go without the right spirit of Christ and the gift of discernment would not understand but argue because they operate on the material and superficial level. Jesus is that bread of life foreshadowed in the manna of the desert given to the Israelites which they thought was from Moses.
Whoever eats of this bread that Christ gives which is his body lives forever and lives in the strength to overcome the world. Jesus is the life of the world and the solution to our earthly crisis and whoever believes in this has eternal life. Those who truly believe in this bread of life and eat it would live the true life that St Paul urges us in the second reading. They would not anger the Holy Spirit since the spirit of Christ abides in them.
With the strength of this bread you would eschew bitterness, wrath anger, clamour and slander and then live in peace with all. The fruit of this meal gives us tenderness, forgiving spirit, and makes us imitators of Christ as He is of God.
We pray that we may eschew anything that would stop us from participating in this life giving meal that Christ shares freely to his people in the Eucharist and that we shall abide by the fruits of peace and love and fear of the Lord that it gives.
May the strength we draw always from this meal help us to overcome the world and its frustrations and then wait on the Lord who definitely has good plans for us and would renew our strength, Amen.
Rev. Fr Callistus Emenyonu, cmf.