He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Have you noticed how peace is OUT and complaining is IN? It seems to be a fad, the thing to do, the sign of wisdom, knowledge, ability, righteousness. Complain and be noticed. Complaining tells you that you are better than the rest and know more than the world offers. Children know more than their parents, citizens know more than the government, the faithful know more than the pope. It seems that every other person has been graced by a special gift of the Holy Spirit to control the family, mankind and the Church. There are just too many gods for our society.
Today, Jesus faces the hungers and complaints of humanity by the offering of food to strengthen us for the journey. We don’t need perfection as much as we need the spirit and grace with which to walk through the movement of this imperfect life. We need the right food for the journey. In face of today’s negative society, we need to be fed by the Bread of Life.
Meister Eckhart, theologian and mystic of the 13th century wrote: “God is greater than God”. The God we claim to serve is ultimately the God that is greater than we can know. We are much too small to make such large comments about the place of God in our little world. You get these bumper stickers that read: “God is my co-pilot.” Sounds good, doesn’t it. But it makes a statement that I bumped God and took over the pilot’s seat. Who’s in charge of this life event we have grown into?
Elijah just came out of a battle with a large number of false prophets. He is grumbling about his lot in life and wants to die. His will to fight is gone. But God has something greater in mind for him and bids him to eat and prepare for a long journey to Horeb, the mountain of promise.
Paul cautions the Ephesians “remove bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling, along with malice”. Rather we must put on the ways of God which are compassion, forgiveness and love, sacrificing whatever it takes to bring a “fragrant aroma” as an offering to God.
Heather King, a convert to Catholicism whose life began in New Hampshire and is now a writer in the Los Angeles area writes:
Christ came forth from his divine concealment to assume for love of humanity our human form, becoming completely human without loss of his own identity; how while remaining unchanged he descended from his natural unity to the level of our divisibility; and how through the beneficent deeds inspired by his love for us, he calls the human race to communion with himself and to a share in his blessings.
We must learn how to enter the pluralistic society of our time and find the grace to bring in the resources of a healing unity and love, the true communion of mankind with truth and grace.
The warning Christ gives us today is similar to the words given to Elijah in his time of discouragement and frustration: “Stop murmuring among yourselves.”
Then he offers us two gifts: learning to listen to the Father and receiving the Bread of Life as nourishment for the journey. Jesus is the Bread of Life. We must feed upon this living bread if we are to bring life to the world. By communicating with Christ through the Eucharist, we are charged to get ready for the path that reveals the healing love of God to each other and to our society.
Listening to the Father in the sharing of the Word of Life in the Eucharist and communicating in the Spirit of Jesus through a communion with his divine nature will strengthen us for the journey ahead. The grueling effort of years of discipline and proper nourishment brings possible victory to the Olympians in competition in London. The further we get from proper discipline and spiritual food in Eucharist, the further is our chance to survive the challenge.
Jesus tells us: I am the living bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever.
As we prepare to enter a year of new evangelization and renewed faith with the universal Church this coming Fall, let us take the advice of today’s scripture: let us stop our grumbling about the divisiveness of humanity and prepare ourselves to journey toward universal renewal by bonding ourselves to the Eucharistic gift of Christ. Let us eat, for the journey is long. Let us change hatred and anger to love and forgiveness, and then we will taste and see the goodness of the Lord.