by Father Kavungal Davy, C.M.I.
IN LAST WEEK’S Gospel, we heard Jesus saying that He was the bread of life. The people with Him at that point most likely had no idea what He was talking about. How could this possibly make sense? The people got confused.
This week, feeding our souls is the message that shines forth from the Scripture readings. Elijah is asking God to take his life. But he was never alone. He was always strengthened by God. God’s messenger refreshed Elijah with food and drink, a foretaste of the ‘living bread’ to which Jesus refers in today’s Gospel. The responsorial psalm invites us to taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Only By Faith
Surveys tell us that somewhere around 50 to 70 percent of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The real presence in the Eucharist is a mystery. We can try to explain it through various theological and philosophical constructs, but we must realize that a mystery can never be fully understood. It is only by faith that we come to understand the real presence in the Eucharist.
A few years ago during my vacation, I was invited to a parish to celebrate Mass on the feast of the Assumption of Mother Mary. As I was talking to a few friends in front of the parish office, one man asked me, “Father, can I see you for a moment?”
“Sure” I replied. I invited him into the office, and he started sharing his story. At the age of 18 he killed a business man, and from then on, he was working as a hit man, a hired murderer. He got a lot of money. He was addicted to drugs and got involved in immoral activities. That day, he was on his way with a mission to kill somebody.
When it was almost time for the Mass, I told him: “We shall continue our discussion after the Mass.”
I invited him to participate in the Mass, and I saw him sitting in the last pew. After the consecration, I noticed him kneeling with his head down.
After Mass, I went to him. He lifted his head and I couldn’t believe he was crying like a baby. He gave me his knife which he used to stab many people.
He told me the words of Jesus, “Whoever eats this bread will live forever,” pierced into his heart. He got the answer to his questions about life.
His home was more than 100 miles away from the parish. He slept that night in the visitor’s room. The next day, I accompanied him to his home. He was from a rich family. I explained to his parents the way Jesus touched him. His dad called a lawyer and got advance bail for him. After his trial, he was convicted and sentenced to be imprisoned for 10 years. His extraordinary character pleased prison officials and inmates. He was released after three years.
Tuned to God
Jesus uses ordinary, everyday words as metaphors to describe a reality that is far beyond ordinary human comprehension. Only those who are tuned to God with open hearts and minds will be able to grasp it. To others, the words of Jesus seem silly and puzzling. God is the one who sustains and nourishes life.
Like Elijah and the young man in my story, sometimes we may feel discouraged by weaknesses and defeats. But the readings give us hope. As the messenger gave food to Elijah, God will never abandon us in difficult situations. Let us come before the altar to receive everlasting life by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.
See how disappointed Elijah was. He sat under a solitary broom tree and asked that he might die, accepting death as his way of ending the miseries of the world. The young man in my story was completely asleep. Suddenly, one is touched by the grace of God. As the messenger touched Elijah and told him to eat, the one who experiences a spiritual awakening gets hope in Jesus Christ.
After eating twice, Elijah gets up and starts his journey. He got the strength to go on for 40 days and 40 nights. This reminds us that the frequent reception of the Eucharist gives us strength to walk through our lives. We will never get tired of walking through difficulties, miseries and trials if strengthened by the bread of life, Jesus Himself!
Dear friends, the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is not to be proved in the laboratory. But it is to be experienced in the life of a believer. Let us believe that the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist awakens, energizes and transforms us. Without it, we have no life.
Let us reach out to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread that secures our salvation in Christ!
Readings for 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 19: 4-8
Psalm 34: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Ephesians 4: 30 – 5:2
John 6: 41-51
Father Davy, a member of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (C.M.I.), is the pastor of St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus parish, Greenpoint, and delegate superior of the CMIs in the U.S. and Canada.