Daily Reflection
August  10th, 2003
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 
1 Kings 19:4-8
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Ephesians 4:30--5:2
John 6:41-51

So as to be more available to the graces of God’s Word in our Readings, imagine Jesus sitting under a Broom Tree waiting patiently for his questioners to stop murmuring and arguing.  He has his knapsack next to him and his staff quite prepared to continue his journey.  His protagonists keep huddling and then approaching him with something more for discussion.  Each time they go into their huddle he makes as if to take off and that brings them back out to the scrimmage line.


We PRAY THESE DAYS AS PEOPLE ON A JOURNEY.  We are one form of God’s really being present.  We have eaten of the Bread of Life, Jesus, both in the Eucharist and in our acceptance of him as the One Who Has Been Sent.

We pray for God’s accompanying us as we meet resistance to our own goodness and that of God.  We pray for the gentle touch of the Eucharist in our hand and on our tongues which encourages us to get up, keep going, and show up for tomorrow.  We may also pray not to argue about religion and religious beliefs, but live them convincingly.


To understand Elijah’s journey and why he just wanted to die, one must read the previous chapter to the one from which our First Reading is taken. Elijah is being chased for good reasons by Jezebel and Ahab who have killed all the other prophets of Israel.  Elijah in his turn has proven the prophets of Baal, a god of fertility, no god at all.  That little piece of action you must read and enjoy in chapter eighteen.  He has mocked their god and then slaughters all one hundred and fifty false prophets.  They played for keeps in those days.

So Elijah is on the run, making for the mountain of the covenant.  We see him exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit.  An angel wakes him and urges him to eat and drink; he does this twice.  Elijah then gets up and journeys for forty days and forty nights before arriving at Horeb.

The discussion about the words of Jesus claiming to be “the bread come down from heaven” and his being the “bread of life” intensifies in today’s Gospel.  Jesus is not letting up, but saying even more statements which seem, to his Jewish listeners, outrageous and impossible as well as insulting to their sacred history.

Jesus advances his thoughts by adding that he, in his totality must be taken in and it is the work of his Father to draw all to this belief or acceptance.  Belief then steps ahead of intellectual understanding or imaginational conviction.  His “flesh” must be eaten, or consumed, or made a part of the living flesh of those who do believe that he is the one “sent” from heaven to give life to this world. As the flesh of quail, lambs and other animals, when eaten, gives life for the journey, so Jesus, when taken in as word from God, gives life for the journey of life.  Jesus states directly that they should just stop murmuring; arguing, intellectualizing, and other forms of mental gymnastics which will not reduce this mystery of the Incarnation to a simple one and one makes two.  Jesus quotes, “They shall all be taught by God.”  Jesus is speaking of the God of their history and the God made flesh for the journey into their future.

Jesus recalls that their Jewish ancestors ate of the bread which fed them in the journey of the desert and did die.  The “bread” that is Jesus will give life for the journey into eternal life.  He will give this flesh on the cross for this eternal life given for all and to all who can believe in their being so loved.        

A few years ago I witnessed a marriage within my family of origin.  The liturgy was on a Saturday afternoon.  Sunday afternoon, while visiting my brother and sister-in-law’s home, I suggested we have mass before I had to fly back to Omaha.  My young nephew plaintively suggested that we had mass yesterday. I told him in a very Jesuit-Uncle way, why we were going to have Sunday’s liturgy on Sunday.  He lurched back in his lazyboy chair and poutingly asked, “Could we just have communion and get out of here?”  He knew reception of Communion came near the end of the liturgy, at least that’s something.

It is the journeying all right that is important.  Jesus, Elijah, you and I are meant and sent on “getting out of here.”  Getting out of “here” this life, is ultimately the aim of Jesus’ having made his journey.  He came that we might have life, real life, more abundantly on earth in such a way that we will “get out of here” into eternal life.

Elijah wanted to “get out of here” by dying quickly.  The burden of his being a prophet was too heavy.  God came down and touched his flesh, fed his flesh and strengthened his flesh to continue the mission of revealing God’s love to Israel.  Life’s journey needs help and Jesus’ journey was to give us a fleshly touch, and encouragement, and even a kick in the spiritual pants to keep us on a similar pilgrimage of revealing the goodness and love of God in and to this world.  We believe in Jesus.  We believe in Jesus in the Eucharist. WE believe in Jesus who takes our flesh and distributes us as gifts of his love.

After listening, after offering, after celebrating, after receiving, then it is indeed time to “get out of here” and bless this world a bit.

“Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; he feeds you with the finest wheat.” Psalm 148


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