FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time ( B )
1 Kings 19:4-8 | Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 | Ephesians 4:30—5:2 | John 6:41-51
The Scriptures for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time point out that we are not alone in the struggles of life, caution us to choose kindness each and every day and assure us that through the Eucharist we begin to live eternal life now.
A man visited Dr. Emil Dabandan, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep medicine specialist in Manila. He was filled with anxiety and was exhausted from lack of sleep. He couldn’t eat, and he avoided his friends. Dr. Dabandan examined him and found that he was impressively in tip top condition. Concluding that his patient needed to laugh his way to relaxation, she told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Boyoyong. Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles. “You must go and see him,” the doctor advised. “Boyoyong is the funniest clown in the Philippines. Expect to get belly laughs from his jokes and antics. Expect that he will cure your sadness.” “No,” replied the despairing man, “he can’t help me. you see, I am Boyoyong!”
Depression can affect anyone — even a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances. For many people, depression can bring feelings of shame or hopelessness, and a sense of being broken or unworthy. Elijah controlled the weather with his prayers. He prayed, and it did not rain. For three and half years not a drop fell from the sky. He prayed again, and it rained. Elijah had shown zeal for the Lord in exposing the prophets of Baal of Peor and in killing them all, and now Queen Jezebel was after his head. So he fled into the desert and prayed to God and asked him to take his life so he can escape his circumstances. It’s a suicide prayer. Elijah, a prophet, Biblical hero, and person of faith, was seriously depressed. Though there is often an environmental and emotional component to depression, the underlying issue is usually biological. God himself, appearing in angelic form — wakes Elijah up to comfort and encourage him. “Get up and eat,” and Elijah sees that God has provided the food and water he needs to recharge. After being nourished by the Lord, Elijah was strengthened for the long journey of forty days to Mount Horeb — the next place God wanted him to go. In our life journey, we may reach our limit and be tempted to give up. That is the time to allow God to be present to us and to take over. With God, there is always strength for one more step. Many spiritual writers have seen this incident as another type of foreshadowing of how Jesus comes to us in our difficulties and trials. He will feed us, especially with the Eucharist; so that we can get up and journey on. You’re not done yet. Get up and eat.
Once there were two owners of convenience stores in Barangay Tunggali: Rodrigo of Hugpong Sari-sari Store and Sonny of Otso-otso General Merchandise. Their stores were across the street from each other, and the two had a very aggressive competition. One day an angel came to Rodrigo of Hugpong Sari-sari Store and said, “The Lord has sent me to tell you that you may have one wish. Whatever you ask for, however extravagant, you will be given. But you must understand that whatever you receive, your rival, Sonny of Otso-otso General Merchandise will receive two-fold.” The cunning store owner thought for a few moments and finally said, “I wish to be made blind in one eye!”
The second reading contains St. Paul’s practical advice for peaceful, communal Christian living among former enemies, namely, the now-converted Jews and the converted Gentiles. The apostle Paul warns the community against “grieving the Holy Spirit of God” by the amount of "quarreling, rage, anger, insults or any kind of malice" The antidote to this poison is to be understanding, mutually forgiving one another, and reaching out to forgive and to be forgiven. That is how they should offer their lives as sacrifices pleasing to God, just as Jesus, “the Bread from Heaven,” offered himself as a “sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” That is the only way that we can be like God. If God seems distant to us, then the practice of these virtues will draw God close.
A story is told of Eduardo, a haciendero, who goes to buy some life insurance. The financial advisor asked him if he had any accidents in the past year, to which he replied “No. But I was kicked by a horse, chased by a raging bull and bitten by a snake - that laid me up for a while.” The financial advisor said, “Weren’t they accidents?” To which he replied, “No, they did it on purpose.”
Do you already have Sun Life life insurance coverage? One of the most important decisions a person or a family can make is the selection of a good life insurance policy. Most people don't consider life insurance policy until later, but the best time to buy it is early on. The idea of life insurance is lacking sense for some and even morbid for others. Despite the mean jokes about financial advisors, they provide a valuable service. Life insurance is the bet you pay against your death. We pay them in life, so they will care for our loved ones in our death. It's a gamble, but many of us are willing to take. If many of us accept the necessity of life insurance, why do so few of us accept the offer Jesus makes: trust me and live forever. He makes us this offer in the Eucharist. On this Sunday, we continue to read from the “Bread of Life discourse” found in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. The great “I am” is repeated twice here: “I am the bread of life” and “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” It is interesting to find the Jews “murmuring” at the discourse on the bread of life, just as the children of Israel did in the wilderness. They complained about Jesus’ claims regarding his identity. How could this local son claim so much? How could he hold himself so high as a prophet? In the Eucharist, we receive this bread from heaven. This bread gives us life: both as a pledge of life after we make that final journey when we die; but also as food for our journey of life now. Incidentally, the ancient Christians also called the Eucharist “viaticum”. This term was used by the Roman army for all the supplies that they would take on a journey or campaign to feed and sustain the troops. It is a great image of the Eucharist: a food that sustains and feeds us on our journey through life and that helps us in all our battles and struggles. What a life insurance policy Jesus offers us! In the bread and wine of Eucharist, he gives us the means to life everlasting. It is not a hedge against the unexpected, but a sure promise of a brighter future. The cost is so small, yet so few want to pay. It seems parting with our money is easier than parting with our trust. Then comes the crucial question: Are you in good hands? Who else should you trust with your life? <enrique.ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum