1 Kings 19:4-8 Ephesians 4:30-5:2 John 6:41-51
What a week we’ve had! We have been painfully aware of the continuing suffering of Mother Earth, the devastating fires in the West, the storms and floods in the East, the hate marches scheduled for today in DC and elsewhere, continuing scandals and divisions among our legislators and in our Church, and violence in our country and abroad. It would be understandable if some of us can certainly relate to Elijah’s cry: “Enough, O Lord! Take my life!”
But, there can be no talk of giving up when God’s creation and creatures are hurting, and God’s Kin-dom is still evolving. Our Compassionate God heard and understood Elijah’s fears, tiredness, and hunger on many levels. An angel was sent to touch him and ordered: “Get up and eat else the journey will be too long for you.” And with eating the hearth cake and drinking the water, Elijah walked 40 days and nights to Mt. Horeb where he encountered his God and heard what he was yet called to do.
Jesus knows our fears, tiredness, and hunger on many levels as well. He wept over the city of Jerusalem, as Dominic wept over France, and many of us have wept over our nation and our world because, as a people, we do not know the things that make for peace. Jesus compassionately invites us today and every day to take him seriously: “I AM the bread of Life. Come to me; eat, else the journey will be too long for you. I know the road is rough, curves and detours you never expected, hills and valleys that hold their own perils. But I have gone before you, desire to be with you, and want to be in you and work through you.” Or to put it in other words, Jesus might be saying: “May I have this dance?” I love to dance. My problem is that I always want to lead; Jesus says, “No, follow me in a simple two step!” It’s spelled out in Ephesians: “be kind; be compassionate; forgive AS God has forgiven you; love AS Christ loved us.”
In today’s Gospel Jesus says: “Those who believe HAVE eternal life”; not will have but right now, you HAVE eternal life. Believe in it. For the evangelist John, faith is never used as a noun; it’s always a verb, an action. There is a big difference isn’t there, in having someone say to you, “I believe you,” or to say, “I believe IN you”? “To believe IN” is used 36X in John. To believe in suggests a dynamic personal relationship. Today do you want to say: “I believe you, Jesus;” or “I believe IN you”? And even more awesome is to hear Jesus say: I believe IN you to continue my Mission.
We are invited to the table of Eucharist to eat the Bread of Life else the journey will be too long for us. We believe in Jesus’ infinite desire to be one with us so we can go forth to be Christ’s love, forgiveness, and healing for others.
There isn’t time for murmuring, sitting and sulking with Elijah, giving up and getting overwhelmed, feeling helpless. Dominic, whose feast we celebrated last week, had his hard days and discouragement in Fanjeaux. He did not give up. It is all God’s work, but God has chosen to invite us to participate in bringing about the new creation of love, justice, community.
“We have the capacity to wrap the Earth with a new mantle of compassionate love and peace. But do we have the vision?” asks Ilia Delio. Yes, I think we have glimpses when we work together and celebrate together in Word and Sacrament God’s Creative, Dynamic Love and Compassionate Presence among us and within us.
Let us bring the gift of our lives to this altar in praise and thanksgiving. We will be invited to “Get up and eat else the journey will be too long for you.” As we receive the Body of Christ, can we say, “Yes! I believe IN You, I accept. By your grace, I will be more fully this day, this week Eucharist for others! Amen.”
Joan Delaplane, OP