everyone, this is my homily for the 19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. The readings for today's Mass can be
found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/081218.cfm Thanks as
always for reading; sharing this blog on your social media sites; and
your feedback and comments. I appreciate it. Have a good week - God
Bless - Fr Jim
today’s scripture readings could be summed up in three words - they could be
DON’T GIVE UP.
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to raise $25,000 for the establishment of a scholarship in honor of one
of our previous chaplains, Fr. Art Humphrey, as well as to support our
ongoing mission and ministry to the Montclair State University
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probably all need to hear those words from time to time. Especially when you’ve had that feeling - or maybe even said it
outloud “THAT’S IT I’M DONE.” I probably
could give you a list of times where that came to my own mouth. At least a few times yesterday
sitting in traffic on the Garden State Parkway on the way to a
wedding. But more seriously, how often do we feel or think those words because things
seem too difficult, too challenging. We feel overwhelmed; exhausted.; intimidated. We're just worn out. And it can be any of us in any stage of like:
- A student - whatever grade
that might be - just looking at the calendar or the non-stop Back to School
ads have snapped them out of the Summer lull to realize a new Academic Year is
coming up and failures or difficulties from the past start to eat up on them;
- For those a little older and done with school, working day in
day out in in this complex world where words like“stable” and “job” are being
used together less and less frequently is filling you with anxiety or your dissatisfied
with things as they are;
- Married couples, with kids worried
about their future not to mention their own...
- If you’re alone - maybe divorced, maybe
widowed and just that forced solitude wears on you...
- Those going through illness and the pain, the suffering,
the unknown has them filled with fear or anxiety.
- Maybe you’re just discouraged,
disillusioned by scandals, controversies, failures in leadership - whether that
should be in our Church, our government...
point is, we all can probably list off a heck of a lot of things that get us to
that breaking point where we want to say “THATS IT I’M DONE”
all of those different experiences that people are faced with and that we can
find ourselves bringing before the Lord in our prayers, that God's Word today
says those very simple words, but bold words that are meant to be hopeful - Don’t
look at what we’ve just heard. Often
times when I’m preparing a homily, I’m naturally drawn to the Gospel and jump
off that. But today’s first reading is a
real doosy. We hear from the Old
Testament book of Kings and we’re hearing about one of God’s prophets named
Elijah. As one of God’s prophets, Elijah
had a pretty straightforward job - to proclaim God’s word to His people. Straightforward, yes... Easy? not by a long shot. Why?
Well if you wanted to learn where the phrase “don’t shoot the messenger”
came from, it had to have been the prophets!
Which makes sense. If people were
doing God’s Will, following His commands, living by the covenant that
they had agreed to with Him, there would be no reason to send a
messenger. People would be in right,
good relationship with the Lord. So
prophets are constantly speaking words to people that they didn’t necessarily
want to hear.
this case, the people who don’t want to hear what the prophet has to say (and
in effect, what the Lord wants to say) is a person - and a very powerful person
– Queen Jezebel. One of the reasons
the name Jezebel has negative connotations is because of this episode. She is so ticked off at Elijah that she’s
sends murderous henchmen out to take him out once and for all. So Elijah’s on the run for his life. He finally comes to this desert, finds this
tree and as he is catching his breath for a moment what does he pray:
is enough O Lord - Take my life!
something consoling to know that a revered prophet who’s life and words are
forever remembered in the Sacred Scriptures had a bad day, isn’t it? Because as the People of God in our day and
age - I think we’re afraid to admit that we can get tired... We can grow
weary... The world around us seems to
be spinning out of control. People seem
polarized, tense, angry about lists of issues.
And for those trying to live a good, decent life, we can appreciate the
what does the Lord do for Elijah? Does
he scold him for his lack of faith, for being weary, for saying words that
strike us as blasphemous? No, he doesn’t
do any of that.
the Lord magically take care of all that troubles Elijah? Does he send that Jezebel where she
belongs? Smiting or smoting Elijah’s
adversaries? No he doesn’t do that
either. The Lord sends a messenger, an
angel to Elijah’s side ordering to eat
and drink not once, but twice with the words - “Get up, eat, or else the
journey is going to be too long for you.”
Don’t Give up Elijah....
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord - not just Elijah, but you and I sang
those words of the psalm today in response to that reading.
St. Paul in that second reading seems to be speaking those same words - Don’t
give up. Last week and this week’s
passages (and some verses that the lectionary skipped in between) from St
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians talks about the difficulty for us to resist very
human temptations, and human failures.
He notes how we are in this struggle between feelings of“bitterness,
fury, anger, shouting and reviling... malice” and striving to be imitators
of God as beloved children and to live in love. But Paul’s confident we can do it if we don’t
give up and draw upon the gifts of God.
greatest of the gifts of God is revealed to us in the Gospel. Unlike Elijah receiving a simple hearth cake
and a jug of water, Jesus offers himself to us as THE bread from heaven that you and I are to feast on both in this
word we are hearing now and in the bread and wine which becomes His Body and
Blood on that altar. It is He himself
that He wants us to eat, to nourish on, to consume in our body’s and souls so
much so that when we are worn down, tired, when we feel the world has abandoned
and forgotten us – when the day to day struggles and trials blind us to his
presence make us forget his promises and make us feel like we’re never going to
get ahead, we will still hear his
invitation calling out to us to feast on
his Flesh - enabling us to live forever – promising us he will not abandon us,
not now or ever... If we believe in Him, we can listen to him as He tells us: