Sunday, 8 August 2021 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us are all called to give thanks to God and to put our full trust in Him, as He has provided for everything that we needed, and gave us the strength and the support even when we might not have realised it and even when we have disobeyed Him and sinned against Him. He still cared for us and showed us all His love, and He still reached out to us, and for that we ought to give Him thanks.

In our first reading today, we heard how the prophet Elijah fled to the desert as he escaped the bitter wrath of Queen Jezebel of Israel, who together with king Ahab of Israel persecuted the prophets and the faithful people of God, promoting pagan and idol worship among the people. The prophet Elijah was a particularly courageous and dedicated opponent of the Queen and her efforts to corrupt the people of God in the northern kingdom of Israel.

At that time, Elijah had just recently won a great contest of the faith against the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal at Mount Carmel. The priests of Baal contended with Elijah to prove who was the true Lord and God, and they failed, as they could not prove that Baal is the true God, and no one responded to their prayers and calls. On the other hand, Elijah, although alone, as the only prophet of God left alive, prayed to the Lord and almost immediately a great fire came down from Heaven, burning the offerings many times over.

But although Elijah managed to prove before all the assembled who was indeed the true God, but he earned the ire and the hatred of Jezebel, who with the support of Ahab likely sought to kill him, and hence, Elijah fled to the desert with nothing left on him. As the prophet of God, Elijah had followed the Lord wholeheartedly, and left everything for His sake, going to wherever the Lord would lead him to. And thus, we heard today in our first reading today, the painful words of the prophet Elijah when he wanted to give up from all the struggles, all the sufferings, preferring to die than to suffer any further.

And that was exactly when God reaffirmed His support to Elijah, as He sent His Angels to provide for the prophet, bringing him food and water to sustain him, that he would not perish and survive, for God was always with him and would never abandon him especially in his moments of greatest challenges and trials. God proved His faithfulness and took care of Elijah, before calling him to embark a long journey to the mountain where Elijah would come to see Him in person, where God would reveal to Elijah His intentions and truths.

Then, in our Gospel passage today we heard the continuation of the discourse of the Bread of Life, where the Lord, after feeding the people miraculously with bread and fishes, revealed Himself that He would feed them and provide for them the true Bread of Heaven, that is His own Most Precious Body and Blood, His own flesh and His blood, as the Living Bread that came down from Heaven, to be partaken by all the people of God who believe in Him. The Lord revealed Himself as the Bread of Life through which all will come to have new life through Him, while many among them took this revelation with surprise and doubt.

Again in this story, we have heard how the Lord provided for His people in need, as God saw how those multitudes of people, five thousand men and many thousands more of women and children were all hungry and without food, as they had been following the Lord for days, likely to the wilderness where the Lord often worked in, and listened to His teachings. He miraculously turned a mere five loaves of bread and two fishes into a great feast that was shared by everyone and with twelve baskets’ worth of leftovers gathered in the end.

God’s love was manifest at that time, and there is no greater love than His gift for us in Christ, which far surpassed even the food by which He provided the Israelites during their forty years of Exodus, the sustenance He provided to the prophet Elijah, and the food He gave to feed all the five thousand men and thousands of other women and children. In Christ, His most Beloved Son, He gave us all the gift of life and the gift of hope, that through Him, we may receive hope and light to dispel the darkness of despair and by overcoming the tyranny of sin and death, leading us into the assurance of eternal life.

As St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Ephesians in our second reading this Sunday, the Lord has shown us His love through Christ, and all of us are called to abandon our path of violence and hatred, of jealousy and anger, and distance ourselves from all evils, as we are also called to imitate His examples of love, in the selfless giving and offering of Himself, as He laid down His life and bore the Cross of our sins, that through His sufferings and many wounds, He would liberate and redeem us from our sins, and lead us into life eternal.

As our Eternal High Priest, the bridge between God and Man, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life has offered Himself as the perfect and only worthy sacrifice for the forgiveness of all of our multitudes of sins. He raised Himself on the Altar of the Cross, both as the High Priest offering on our behalf, asking God for forgiveness for our sins, and as the Sacrificial Victim, the Paschal Lamb of God, Who was slain and broken on the Altar at Calvary, bloodied and shattered, offering His own Most Precious Body and Blood for the salvation of all of our souls.

And it is this same Most Precious Body and Blood which we have received in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, the same bread and wine transformed into the very reality and essence of Our Lord’s Precious Body and Blood, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, which we partake and share. God gave Himself for us, that He may dwell with us and among us, and that He may share with us not only the death of our physical bodies and sin, but also the most glorious resurrection into new life, as we share in His Resurrection at Easter.

This is why every time and every moment we share the Lord in the Eucharist, in every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are constantly reminded that God loves us, brothers and sisters in Christ, loving us unconditionally and has always been there for us, through our highs and lows, sharing with us our joys and sorrows. We must not forget this truth, as all too often we will be tempted to think that no one cares for us or loves us, especially when we are in despair and suffering, which is all too common these days, with all that everyone in the whole world are still suffering and enduring with the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on us and our communities.

That is why we have to remind one another, brothers and sisters in Christ, to keep our faith in the Lord and to trust in Him as we continue our journey each and every day through life. And we should help remind one another that we have to trust in the Lord in the path that He has called us all to follow that we do not end up walking down the wrong path in life, for temptations are plenty in trying to mislead us down the wrong path, of sin, of darkness and of despair.

Let us encourage one another that we may remain strong and firm in our convictions and faith, and do not easily be broken by the pressures and the difficulties we face in life. And when we are able to help our brethren in need, wherever they are, let us do so enthusiastically and with genuine love, care and affection just as the Lord has done with us when He provided for us and cared for us, with all of His love and attention. Let us be the witnesses and the bearers of God’s hope and love within our own communities.

May the Lord, our most loving God, our Bread of Life and our Hope continue to be with us, guiding us and strengthening us through the challenges and trials we may face and encounter in life. May He give us the courage, strength and perseverance to remain faithful to Him and to keep our trust in Him no matter what. May the Lord be with us always, and remain with us, at all times. Amen.

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