Sunday, August 9, 2009


(Reflections on the readings of 19 Sunday in Ordinary Time)

As a young boy, I have indelible memories of a good lady - a family friend - who loved to sing a song called "Johnny Zero". It was the story of a boy who did not do too well in school and was nicknamed Johnny Zero. Well, with due encouragement he slowly turned his academic performance around and one day the teacher was proud to announce that "Johnny Zero had become Johnny Hero".
Reading through the experience of the prophet Elijah we could note a similar trajectory but in reverse. From being the great hero of Yahweh who had the courage to take on the prophets of Baal who enjoyed the patronage of Queen Jezebel, in this Sunday's pericope he is almost a zero - running from a band of assassins out to kill him. He is broken, discouraged and gives up. And it is Yahweh who sends him food and drink to strengthen him along his journey.
In today's Gospel we see Jesus present to us the Eucharist - His Body as food for nourishment. In the face of criticism and opposition - he is unfazed and goes on to present the meaning of Eucharist. The "Bread of Life" discourse is a message of hope. The reading suggests the bread of life, the Eucharist, as the breaf for the journey of faith as we journey up the mountain of God.
Our lives are very often roller-coaster rides - sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down and very often we are somewhere in between. Zeroes to Heroes thats the way it goes. But, what remains certain is that we have a loving God who cares for us and will not leave us alone. He comes to be with us.
God provides a mysterious food called manna for the Israelites in the desert. However, they were told not to stockpile the manna, but to gather only what they needed for one day. Jesus told his disciples not to worry about tomorrow. He said, when you pray to your heavenly Father, you are to say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” No matter how difficult life may be, for those who trust in God, and who live one day at a time, the manna falls every day. We are not told to pray: "Give us today our weekly rations," but "Give us this day our daily bread."
So in the face of problems and difficulties - the message is clear. Jesus is not necessarily going to remove those blocks and obstacles, but he is surely the one who is going to be with us, strengthening and nourishing us with the Bread of Life.

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