XIX SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
1 kings 19:4-8; ephesians 4:30—5:2; john 6:41-51
a senior citizen went to a restaurant every day for lunch, and always had soup. one day the manager asked him how he liked his meal. he replied: «it was good, but you could give me more bread. two slices isn’t enough.»
the next day the manager told the waitress to give the man four slices, and then eight slices. still not enough! so the manager told the waitress to give him a whole loaf. but the senior citizen wanted more!
the manager wanted to satisfy this customer. so the next day, he ordered a huge loaf of bread from the bakery, cut the loaf in half, and laid it out right next to the bowl of soup. the senior citizen came for lunch, and devoured the soup and the huge loaf. the manager—hoping he had finally satisfied the man—asked: «how was your meal today, sir?» he replied: «it was good, but i see you’re back to serving only two slices of bread!»
bread was important for this senior citizen… like it was for elijah and the people of israel.
in the first reading, elijah—fleeing from queen jezebel—was exhausted. he came to a broom tree, sat under it and asked GOD to take his life. but GOD had more in store for elijah, and fed him with bread. strengthened by that bread, elijah walked forty days and nights (symbolizing a life span) to mount horeb. GOD gave him bread for his journey.
in the gospel, the people—concerned only about physical hunger and material bread—follow JESUS even after he has satiated their physical hunger. he tells them there are other hungers which need to be satiated and which he alone can satiate. he is the bread of life that sustains them on their journey of earthly life and also on their journey to eternal life.
bread is vital for us. GOD knows the journey that each of us travels. he knows that—like elijah—we often have to flee from forces that seek to destroy us: addictions and sicknesses, materialism, the pressures and pretensions of a godless society… he knows that often that we feel like elijah under the broom tree; we want to say: «this is enough.» and GOD sustains us and nourishes us with bread for the journey.
in moments of «exhaustion» and when i say «this is enough», will i allow GOD to touch me and strengthen me? will i eat the bread of life and journey to my mount horeb?