YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: HELP FROM ABOVE
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
First reading -1Kgs 19:4-8
Second reading – Eph. 4:30-5:2
Gospel – Jn 6:41-51
Our lives are lived in two directions –the vertical and the horizontal directions. While the horizontal pertains to the things we can see around us, the vertical pertains to the Divine, the unseen God. The horizontal involves the world, but the vertical involves heavens. The vertical is the source point of all that is good, while the horizontal is the distribution point of what has been given from above. It is a grave mistake to look around the horizontal as the source of our need. In time of need, if we must get help, we must look up to the source.
The bone of contention of the Jews in today’s gospel was why Jesus should say He has come from heaven. “Meanwhile, the Jews were complaining to each other about Him…We know His father and mother. How can He now say, ‘I have come from heaven’” – Jn. 6:42. They were concentrated on the things they see around the horizontal – the father and mother of Jesus; and these appeared so helplessly in need of help themselves that no help could be expected from them. I think they were very correct. Yes, the things we find within the horizontal cannot help us on the rainy day. They can disappoint us at any time. Every blessing, every help, comes from above. Little wonder to note that rain always falls in a vertical and not horizontal manner. The ray of the sun does that too. Why do we bow down our heads when the priest is saying a prayer of blessings over us? It could also indicate that blessings come from above and not from below.
The terrible mistake the Jews made was that they never knew Jesus had not come from within like anyone else or anything else as they thought. He had come from the Father above. As such, Jesus qualifies as the source of help. If the Jews ever knew this, if they had believed this, I am sure they would never have quarreled. They already had the understanding that help comes from above. Even before Christ, they already had it: “I lift my eyes to the mountains; where is my help to come from? Help comes to me from Yahweh who made heaven and earth” – Psalm 121:1
It is very unfortunate that many live their lives within the horizontal axis alone. They trust on, and seek help in what they can see around them – their political god-fathers, their brother or son living abroad, the fat bank account which they have amassed for themselves or which has been left for them as a patrimony. These are the things that they would remember and heave a sigh of relief. Sorry! Such is to be pitied. If we enjoy any good within the horizontal, we must acknowledge that such good must have come to us from above, within the vertical line. And we are bound to crash if we lose sight of this. The greatest mistake Elijah could have made in today’s first reading, was to have thought the food he ate had come from around the horizontal.
A task we have is to believe that our help comes from above. It is a simple logic. If we believe that our help comes from above, and we believe that Christ has come from above, the heavens, then it becomes unquestionably correct to conclude that Christ is the source of our help. We must look up to Him in thankfulness for all good we have received, and in anticipation of more help to come.
We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land..
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand..
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain…
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain…
All good gifts around us Are sent from Heaven above
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love…
We thank thee then,
O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest, our life our health our food,
No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!