“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” (I Kings)
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me. And delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34)
“So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 4)
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”(John 6)
Another shooting on the news, another riot, or raging forest fire, how much more can we take? Another day of political bickering, violence and hatred all around the world. How much more can we handle? There are days the challenges of daily living and the challenges of living in a polarized world are too much. Where do we find the strength we desire for our journey through life? Where?
How timely it is that we are in the midst of the “Bread of Life” discourse at this uncertain time in the world. “Death” is all around us and we hear Jesus say, “I am the living bread come down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Life need not be full of death. There is life in Jesus Christ. Life in God.
This week we see the recurring theme of “nourishment for the journey” in all the readings. I highlighted a few at the beginning of this post. Elijah received nourishment for his arduous journey to the “mountain of God.” The Psalmist praises God for deliverance from all his fears. Paul reminds us to live in love, sacrificial love. Sacrifice our selfish motives and love each other and ourselves unconditionally. Finally, we hear Jesus say the nourishment you seek is found in me–believe.
This nourishment is available to us each and every moment of our life’s journey, but in a special way we are nourished at the Eucharist. “Take and eat, take and drink”…”Become what you receive”…”Go out and glorify the Lord by your life.” Each time we partake of Christ’s body and blood we are like Elijah on our journey to the mountain of God. We receive the continued strength to love and serve each–no matter the circumstance or challenge.
We are witnesses of God’s love through Jesus Christ every time at Mass. We taste and see the signs and miracles that the people in Jesus day were clamoring for, but refused to see. Jesus’ sacrificial love is our sign, is our greatest desire, our surest hope in this world of “death.”
We are coming to the point in the “Bread of Life” discourse that we must ask ourselves, do we believe? Am I willing to find my nourishment in Jesus? Is the cost too great or too little to follow and believe in the living bread that came down from heaven? Is Jesus’ teaching of unconditional love too difficult for me to live by. Holding a grudge, not forgiving hurts is so easy to do. It’s much easier to grumble about what’s wrong in our lives than to trust that God is with us and guiding us and nourishing us through every twist and turn, mountain and valley. It’s easier to believe we are all alone on this journey, or we don’t need anyone to accompany us on our journey. But that kind of “nourishment” or “food” is so fleeting and unhealthy. We always end up wanting more and starving for what really brings us life.
This week, meditate on how Jesus–the living bread from heaven–is present with you on your journey. Where do you see Jesus? Where are you experiencing Jesus’ loving nourishment? How will you praise God for seeing and tasting the goodness of the Lord?