19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The opiate crisis today accounts for an amazing number of deaths, and those who succumb are from every class of society. Some are sucked in unwittingly; some choose to escape from reality, regardless of how they enter this web, the person’s life is sacrificed to the poison. Many wish for death.
In today’s first reading, Elijah prayed for death; he was despondent, yet when he was awakened, he obeyed the direction given not once but twice. He was ordered to “get up and eat.” Notice, he was given a choice. He had to do his part, and when he did as ordered, he was sustained for forty days and forty nights. We wonder where to find such food.
Sometimes the answer seems too simple for the sophisticated of today. Many turn away from God feeling they need no help, or God wouldn’t have time to listen. Yet prayers are heard and answered – not always with the response requested. Still we are invited to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” We’re invited to eat of God’s gifts and to relish His presence.
Since each of us is made in the image of God, we can acknowledge His presence even in the addicted. St. Paul, in his letter to Ephesians, admonishes us to “live in love…to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.” Sometimes all of this strikes us as impossible, yet each of us has already been forgiven and each is loved. We are asked to share these gifts, and today’s readings tell us we are also FED by our God IF we choose to EAT. Why turn away?
Today’s Gospel sings with love and hope. Jesus promises, “I am the bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever…” Not only is Jesus the source of love, but this love is available to all who believe. We can choose to believe and live or to turn away. Elijah got up and ate, and he walked for forty days and forty nights; we can believe and eat, and we’re promised eternal life!
Let us pray for an increase of love in the world so all may choose to obey and to eat the bread of eternal life.
Sister Miriam Catherine Nevins, O.P.