for Sunday, August 9, 2015
The second reading today is from the Letter to the Ephesians and tells us:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. The letter then gives a list of negative
ways of responding to life and a list of positive virtues for us to
cultivate. All of this is sort of standard Christian advice. It could be
good advice for anyone, whether Christian or not. It paints a picture of
how to be a good human being.
The first reading today is a wonderful contrast to this part of the Letter
to the Ephesians. Elijah has just slain all the prophets of Baal, a false
god, and now is running away from the fury of Jezebel, the notorious wife
of Ahab, the king of northern Israel. Ahab was weak and Jezebel strong.
Elijah knows that he is in trouble! And he despairs of living and asks God
to take his life. God does not respond that way, but makes Elijah keep on
The contrast between these two readings is wonderful! It helps us
understand that although Ephesians makes Christian life sound very easy:
just don’t do bad things and instead do virtuous acts, the reality is often
much closer to that of Elijah, who tries to do right and suffers intensely
for trying. This does not negate the advice of Ephesians, but makes it
real for us. If we are going to follow the Lord Jesus, we must learn how
to struggle to do the good, how to suffer in order to be faithful to God
and how to keep on praying even when it looks like God has abandoned us!
The Gospel of John now puts this in the context of the Eucharist. We
remember that this Gospel has no account of Jesus instituting the Eucharist
at the Last Supper. Instead, the Eucharistic teaching is almost all in
this Chapter 6 of this Gospel. This Chapter 6 over and over proclaims for
those who have ears that Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God, Jesus is sent to us,
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures.
Many of those who listen to Jesus cannot accept His words. They see in Him
only the human person that they have known since His childhood. They see
in Him someone who could not be anyone special. Their ears, eyes and
hearts are closed. Jesus is frustrated with them just as Elijah was
frustrated with the prophets of Baal and with Jezebel.
For us: how are we living today? Do we walk with the Lord Jesus or with
the prophets of Baal? Do we accept the struggle and the sufferings to give
our life to the Lord? Do we call on the Lord even when we are in trouble?
Come, Lord Jesus!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: 1 Kings 19.4-8
Second Reading: Ephesians 4.30 - 5.2
Gospel: John 6.41-51
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: