Last week "the whole community ... began to complain against Moses and Aaron"(Exodus 16:2), and THIS SUNDAYS GOSPEL READING [6: 41 - 51] we find another group complaining. "The Jews...
Last week’s reflection ended with the assertion that we should never hunger or thirst – even “in the wilderness.” This thought was passed on within the context of our need to LIVE through life’s uncertainties with a confidence born of faith. All of us, at various stages of our living have to journey through the wilderness.
TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [1 KINGS 19: 4 – 8]
tells us that “Elijah went a day’s journey into the wilderness.” Do not overlook that the prophet went on A JOURNEY. He was prepared and willing to MAKE THE JOURNEY. It was in making this journey that the Lord made himself evident in Elijah’s life. “Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you.” What happened? “He rose, and ate and drank, and walked in the strength of that food.” We see that the remainder of the journey still had to be made – but the prophet, in the end, reached “Horeb the mount of God.”
Elijah was still to face and deal with the uncertainties of his situation but
“(he) sought the Lord, and he answered (me); from all my terrors he set (me) free.” [see TODAY’S PSALM [34 or 33] He went into and, with the food and drink the Lord provided he eventually, with new understanding, made into the presence of the Lord.
In the words of
THE GOSPEL [JOHN 6: 41 – 51], Elijah “heard and learned from the Father.” This is why he was able to come to the Lord. As we ourselves hear, learn, and begin to understand, so – little by little – we come to the mount of God. This is why “he who believes has eternal life.” I like to understand these particular words of Jesus as not limited to life after death but, rather, as indicating that reaching out to discover a deeper understanding we faithfully journey through our own uncertainties and trials and so already begin sharing in an ongoing life which, eventually, evolves into a life that does not end.
We need to see two important connections with last week’s reflection and scripture. Not only did we hear in the Psalm about hearing and understanding (learning?!) but this Sunday the Gospel records that Jesus himself emphasises this by proclaiming:
“everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” In addition last week’s Old Testament reading records that the whole people murmured against Moses and Aaron, while this week the Gospel tells us that “the Jews murmured at Jesus.” However, Jesus challenges his listeners: “do not murmur among yourselves.” THERE HAS TO BE A LESSON HERE FOR EACH ONE OF US TO HEAR, LEARN AND UNDERSTAND!
Last week “the whole people of Israel” were fed by God for their continuing journey. This Sunday Elijah is given food and drink for his journey. Last Sunday the Gospel proclaimed
“labour for the food which endures to eternal life.” This Sunday John records the Lord saying: “I am the living bread … if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever.”
How is it possible for us to journey through the uncertainties, trials and tragedies of life without the food and drink of the Eucharist?
I HAVE TO ESTABLISH FOR MYSELF THE ESSENTIAL CONNECTION BETWEEN EUCHARIST AND MY OWN JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE.
The journey will be too long for me
without Eucharist. The Eucharist without my own willingness to continue making the journey together with my uncertainties is a contradiction in terms. There is no real journey without the struggle, and Eucharist is not there to shield me from the facts of MY LIFE JOURNEY.