The nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary time continues to take the cycle of readings from John’s Gospel, chapter 6 with an excerpt from the Bread of Life Discourse. Last week, there was the story of the multiplication of the loaves. This week, we have the bold proclamation from Jesus revealing His divine nature in which he remarks “I am the bread that came down from heaven (Jn 6:41).
The old testament reading from the first book of Kings chapter 19 has Elijah the prophet giving up hope and wanting to perish under a broom tree for lack of hope. Strengthened by a hearth cake, a jug of water and appearance from an angel, Elijah is commanded to eat such nourishment, but decides to lay back down. Only with the prodding of an angel does he eat and drink again to miraculously venture out to Mt. Horeb for 40 days and nights.
The old phrase we are what we eat holds true for our reflection on the Eucharistic miracle every time we partake of Jesus’s body and blood made holy for our commemoration feast acknowledging the bread of life come down from heaven at every mass we celebrate. In some ways, the duty for us to go out on mission after receiving such life giving food is found with the prophet Elijah when he goes out on his journey after partaking on such holy food and water a second time.
Oftentimes, I am inclined to take such holy nourishment after receiving holy communion for granted without thinking about how such heavenly food that enters my body and very soul can transform my daily life and Christian mission. Just like Elijah, some days it is easy to just want to sit under a broom tree and “wait for the pangs of death.” However, our hope is not lost with the sacrament of the Eucharist where Jesus comes down and is truly present in the bread and wine that becomes His body and blood. We must always be ready to give thanks after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, but also remember that to go forth and do the work of the church in our homes and communities is part of receiving such divine nourishment.
A good prayer that I have found helpful in my own journey after receiving the Eucharist is the Anima Christi (Soul of Christ).
(Prayer retrieved from https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/anima-christi-384)
May we always be ready to be thankful for such a gift we receive at every mass where heaven comes down to earth. After receiving holy communion, let such spiritual food empower and enkindle in us the mission to go forth and proclaim the good news by our thoughts, words and actions in our homes, communities and workplaces.
May the Lord bless us, and protect us from all evil this day. Amen.