Sunday, 12 August 2018 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we continue the discourse we had from the previous Sunday, on the Lord’s words to the people of Him being the Bread of Life, giving His own Flesh and Body to all of them to share and eat. But we heard how the people refused to believe in Him and even uttered disgustingly at such a suggestion, saying, how can such a Man give them something to eat from His own Body?

That is because they did not have faith in them, and they did not believe that Jesus is more than just a mere Man like them, even when they have seen all the miracles that He had performed in their midst and despite all that He had taught them, just as the prophets had written that the Saviour would have done. They have hardened their hearts and minds and refused to believe in the Lord’s truth.

In today’s first reading, taken from the Book of Kings, we heard about the prophet Elijah who at that time was fleeing the harsh persecutions he had endured for quite a long time under the wicked kings of Israel and their idol-worshipping followers. The prophet Elijah was at the end of his wits and was in great despair, wanting the Lord to end his suffering there and then right away. It is quite understandable considering the kind of treatment that Elijah had received at the hands of his enemies.

But the Lord sent His Angel to provide food for Elijah to eat, and He commanded the prophet to eat through the Angel, for the upcoming journey He had to take would be a perilous one. Elijah was likely still hesitant, but in the end, he obeyed the Lord’s commands, and ate the bread and food given to Him. The food gave him sustenance and strength to go on a long journey of forty days and nights towards the mountain of God, Mount Horeb, where Moses once received God’s laws.

It was there that God met Elijah, and spoke to him, and strengthened his faith. And ever since then, Elijah continued his ministry, braving through persecutions and trials, carrying out what God wanted him to do, faithfully and with great zeal. This is also a reminder of God’s sustenance and care for His entire people, when He gave them manna, bread from heaven to eat for the entire period of forty years of their journey to the Promised Land of Canaan.

But as the Lord Jesus said in the Gospel passage highlighted the fact that those bread that God gave, while they gave sustenance to the physical body and made them all satisfied and filled, with strength to carry on the long journey, to the Promised Land for the Israelites and to Mount Horeb for the prophet Elijah, but eventually those bread are food that sustains only our physical flesh and body, and ultimately, they are nothing compared to the True Bread and Food from heaven that God would come to give His people, that is His own Flesh and Blood.

And brothers and sisters in Christ, speaking about going in a journey, are we all aware that each and every one of us are also currently in a journey? Our lives are journeys for each one of us, and we embark on this journey of life, with the ultimate destination of being reconciled with God and being in full union with Him, at the end of our lives, when we may be reunited with Him in full grace and love.

We have to make this journey in life because of our sins, the original sin of Adam and Eve, our forefathers, and all of our own mortal and venial sins that have caused us to be separated and sundered from God’s love and grace. Our life on earth, in this world, and all of the sufferings we encounter is this journey of life that we are taking, and we are all on our way towards God.

But on the way, many of us will be distracted and fall off the path, going to the wrong way and direction, and there are many other offerings out there that may seem to be more attractive to us than our original intended destination. That is the devil at work, together with all of his forces and allies, bound on making us to fall into temptation and therefore fall into the eternal damnation in hellfire.

That is why, just as all those who are going on a journey need food to sustain themselves, and not just any type of food, but good, nourishing and hygienic food, not rotten or useless for us in terms of nutrition. Let us imagine if one were to bring perishable food to places like a desert, where there is no way for us to preserve those food. In that case, the food will spoil and if we eat this food, we will be in trouble.

And what is the right food for this kind of journey? It is none other than the Holy Eucharist, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself, the Bread of Life, Who has promised all of us who share in His Body, of everlasting life and union with God. We may see that it is just a mere bread and mere wine, as others in the world would also have seen them, but what is different for us, is that we have faith.

The most important part of our faith is our belief that the priest in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, by the power and authority given to him, has turned and transformed the bread and the wine into the very essence and material of the Lord Himself, His Real Presence in the Eucharist. It was not bread or wine that we receive during the Holy Communion, and neither have we received just a mere symbol of His Body and Blood.

Though by appearance it may seem to remain as bread and wine, but in reality, the Eucharist is the Lord Himself, fully present in our midst and within us, as the physical Body and Blood of Our Lord that has dwelled within us. The Eucharist is the sustenance which the Lord Himself has given us, to share in His Body and Blood, that we may share in His death and resurrection, dying to our past sins and rising to our new life in Him.

The Lord sustains us through the Eucharist, which is eternally linked to the same sacrifice which Our Lord had performed at Calvary, and this sustenance give us the strength and the power to go on in our faith and in how we lived our lives. But have we often taken our reception of the Eucharist for granted? Many of us have, in our attitude towards the Eucharist and in our understanding of its significance.

We still received the Eucharist when we are in a state of sin, and have not repented from our sins and confessed them, and we did not show proper deference and respect for the Lord, even though in our faith, we know that it is Him truly present in our midst. This is the attitude which we must avoid, and discard immediately should we have it with us at the moment.

Therefore, let us be sincere in our faith in the Lord’s ultimate gift in His own Body and Blood, in the Eucharist that He has bestowed upon us through the Church and the holy priests He has appointed to be our shepherds. Let us all love Him with all of our hearts, with all of our minds, and with all of our strength. Let us all turn back towards Him, with a heart that is filled with love for Him, and the desire to be reconciled and reunited with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore realise what it is that we need to do in order to reach out to the Lord from the way that He has shown us all. It is by receiving the sustenance of the Eucharist, Most Precious and Holy Body of Christ, worthily and with faith in Him. Let us grow ever stronger in our commitment to love God and to follow His path, despite the challenges and difficulties we may encounter. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.