09 AUG 2009

Elijah Struggles With Despair

       The Gospel readings from the last two weeks, this week and next week focus on ''Jesus as The Bread of Life''. I believe that we all understand what that means, for it is at the core of our belief as Catholic Christians. We know Jesus offered himself for us, and at the Last Supper He told us how to remember him. Every Sunday when we come to Mass the last supper is re-presented in memory of him.

       With the consecration of the bread and wine that happens here at the altar, the source and summit of what we believe, we partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Savior. After the consecration of the bread and wine we believe that we are receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, or as Jesus refers to himself as ''I am the Bread of Life''.

       In the gospel today Jesus tells us that any one who believes in God the Father learns from him and comes to know God through Jesus. Remember the prophets say ''they shall all be taught by God''. Since we believe that Jesus is the one sent by God we believe that he is the one to spread the word of God through his life here on earth. We know of all of Jesus teachings about the Good Shepherd and taking care of his people such as a flock of sheep. He also takes care of feeding his flock and consequently we also have feeding stories throughout Jesus ministry.

       What particularly struck me today in all three of our readings was the first reading. You will remember the prophet Elijah headed off into the desert. Now as prophets go, he believed he had done all that God had wanted him to do. He felt that he deserved to be treated better. The king at the time felt that Elijah was a ''disturber of Israel''. The king ordered him to be put to death. So he left for the desert with no companionship or food, two of the basic necessities needed to fulfill human needs.

       Not only did he fear for his life, but he was just felling fed up with the Lord because he felt he had performed admirably in his prophetic vocation and he could not understand why his life was in jeopardy. He implores of the Lord to ''take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.'' He lies down and just wants to give up.

       The angel appears and there is bread and water available to him and the angel tells him to eat and drink and be on his way. After being awakened the second time he moves on to see the Lord at his destination, the mountain of God, the holy mountain of Horeb.

       What came to my mind as I read and re-read this reading is of the many people I have come to know who carry out the ministry of our Lordís teachings in many different ways, by teaching, or working as a volunteer in one of the many liturgical functions we have here at St. Malachy. Those that clean and maintain our facilities, those that help set up and tear down after the functions we have here. Do you sometimes think that what you are doing is a thankless task? Do sometimes just feel fed up like Elijah? You know that when Elijah finally met up with Lord, he was assigned other tasks to do and off he went. The Lord decided he was not done with Elijah.

       I would tell you that we all do what we do because we know these things need to be done and we like being apart of something that is happening. I believe we are all doing what we need to do to achieve eternal salvation.

       This week in the Criterion our Archbishop Daniel speaks of our journey of hope. Just as Elijah made his journey into the desert, we like him, do not know what to expect in the future ahead of us. As a community of faith we know the way to salvation is to follow the light of life, that of Jesus Christ. We follow this light by coming to Mass at least once a week and partaking of the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion, we participate in the other Sacraments available to us and we try to live as if Jesus is right here with us, because you know he is with us in the Holy Spirit.

       So as we struggle with our journey in life let us be mindful that there other people struggling and seek out help if needed and remember why we do what we do.

       Archbishop Daniel speaks of the two greatest obstacles on our journey, presumption and despair. The church teaches and he says, ''We are guilty of presumption when we convince ourselves that we donít need the grace of Christ, that we can reach our lifeís goal all by ourselves.''

       ''The sin of despair leads us in the opposite direction; it persuades us that our efforts are hopeless, that we will never reach our goal no matter what.''

       Archbishop Daniel tells us that ''Christ assures us that if we follow him, and walk in his light, we will not give in to the false hope of presumption or to the darkness of despair.''

       As we continue on with our Eucharistic celebration and prepare to receive the Bread of Life, Archbishop Daniel implores us with ''May we follow Him always.''


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