(19th Ordinary Sunday: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51)
Eiljah was a powerful and successful prophet. It is strange, then, to hear him, in the first reading, praying for death and saying, “This is enough, O Lord!”
Not many of us ask for death, but there are times when our prayer is, “Enough, Lord!” It may seem to us that the times we live in are harder than for earlier generations; we witness bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling and malice.
Does this list sound familiar? It should, because it is taken from today’s second reading, written over 1,950 years ago. There have always existed attitudes and behaviors that could prevent Christians from having a loving, faith-filled relationship with God.
It is bad enough when the negativity is directed against others, whom we perceive as enemies. We see this in the murmuring of those who disapproved of Jesus’ claim of having come down from heaven.
But it is worse when the bitterness is directed against God. Mary, at La Salette, spoke of the abuse of her Son’s name, and a general turning away from the practice of the faith. Even Maximin and Mélanie had to admit that they hardly ever prayed.
Prayer is the solution. God heard Elijah’s prayer, not by taking his life but by giving him strength. Private prayer is effective. That of the Christian community is even more so. In the Psalm today we hear, “Glorify the Lord with me, let us together extol his name.”
When we participate in the Eucharist together, and “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” not only do we escape, at least for a while, the reviling and malice in the world around us, but we seek healing for those same faults in ourselves. Then, like Elijah, “strengthened by that food,” we can hope to carry a community attitude into our everyday lives.
In this way, the La Salette message of conversion and reconciliation becomes an expression of St. Paul’s words: “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.”
An angel of God woke Elijah and provided food. The Beautiful Lady woke her people and directed them to the Bread of Life, the flesh of her Son, “given for the life of the world.” Without it we cannot truly live.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.