NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
The human life is a journey which has its ultimate origin and orientation in God. This journey, like every other type of journey, is never devoid of challenges and difficulties. In the Holy Eucharist, God gives us Himself in the form of bread and wine, as the only remedy to human weakness and weariness and the sure guide to our true homeland. May our sincere participation in the sacred mysteries fortify us with the merits of the Eucharistic presence; Amen.
The experience of Elijah in the First Reading of today (I Kgs 19:4-8) was a true manifestation of human weakness and weariness arising from the many challenges and difficulties and frustrations that confront us on our journey of life. Elijah’s case was unique this time as he had to face the wrath of the royal household of Ahab and Jezebel after he slew the prophets of Baal and destroyed their place of worship. Exhausted of all strength and of all hope of survival, Elijah cried out “Lord, I have had enough. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” This condition of Elijah is that of those who lose sight of their origin and of their destination; the condition of seeing only the influx of terrors and attacks and of the dangers that abound without a foresight of the greater inflow of grace and power which God never ceases to send to us. No condition weakens us spiritually and makes us grow weary of our life and mission than this as could be seen in Elijah. He lost touch with everything that was meaningful to him. God in His infinite mercy and magnanimity reconnected him with his source of strength through the hands of His holy angels. In the mysterious feeding of Elijah, we see how God, in diverse forms, comes to us. This was a foretaste of His presence in our midst in the person of His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ in the form of bread and wine, in the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ “the bread of angels, bread from heaven and medicine of immortality.”
Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharistic species was the content of this part of the long discourse in John 6 that formed the Gospel of today (Jn 6:41-51). The efficacy of the Holy Eucharist lies in the presence of Jesus Christ in it whole and entire for “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” The Eucharist, which was foreshadowed in the experience of Elijah, remains the spiritual sustenance that has accompanied the Church throughout her history and in all of her mission and which has continued to nourish the lives of the faithful in our journey to our true homeland. Truly, “The Eucharist, as Christ’s saving presence in the community of the faithful and its spiritual food, is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history. This explains the lively concern which she has always shown for the Eucharistic mystery, a concern which finds authoritative expression in the work of the Councils and the Popes” (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 9). How would the journey of life had being without the Holy Eucharist? What would the Christian life look like without this help from on high? In the Eucharist, we not only receive strength and power to overcome and constantly counter our weaknesses; we also renew ourselves in the spirit and refill ourselves with grace. In the Most Holy Eucharist we receive grace to live the Christian life as Saint Paul invited us to do in the Second Reading (Eph 4:30-5:2) to “be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.”
Oh Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist, fill us with your power and renew within us your gifts of grace and remain with us always; Amen.
Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE