19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)


19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B) John 6: 41-51

August 12, 2018

“I am the bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever”.

Father James Gilhooley, whom I quote today, shares the story another priest, Fr. Henry Fehren once told. It is set in Africa. A great chief was planning a huge banquet. He invited each one he could find in his records. This was supposed to be the party of the year. All the important and not too important people should be there. The invitation was very clear. The chief would provide meats, salads, and abundant desserts. But each guest had to bring his own bottle of wine. Each bottle would be poured into a huge vat and so there would be plenty for everybody.

One creative couple decided to be mean; they would bring a bottle of colored water. No one would know they were cheating. The great day arrived. All the guests dressed up their best. They got together at the garden and poured their wine into a big vat. The time came for the first toast, to the chief´s good luck. The fine crystal cups were filled. Everyone raised a glass to drink deeply. What they tasted was not good at all. They sipped again, but they were like the first time. Each couple felt frustrated. They thought their bottle of colored water would be lost in the gigantic vat. Of course, everyone had brought a bottle of water. They got back exactly what they had brought, a glass of plain water.

Henry Fehren with a sense of humor uses his story applied to those who complain and protest that they do not go to Mass because they get nothing out of it. This story is very neat and shows us that the kind of people with this type of complains gain no benefit going to Mass because they come to church with empty hands and empty spirits. All they bring is a bottle full of material concerns and complains. Therefore, they leave church also with an empty heart.

In today’s reading from the third part of Sixth chapter of John´s Gospel, Jesus tells the people that he is the Bread that has come down from heaven. And all they do is to murmur and complain. “Who does he think he is? Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ´ I have come down from heaven´?” Instead of listening to him, they would rather complain.

Jesus tells them to stop complaining about. He is the only One who has seen the Father. To those who believe, he will give eternal life. At this part of his sermon of the Bread of Life, Jesus comes to the conclusion that faith in him leads to faith in his words and deeds, the gift of the Eucharist.

We hear Elijah in 1 Kings 19, our first reading, very negative. He complains. He has been chased by his enemies, and was crossing the desert, he was tired and hungry, until “He came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death, saying, ´This is enough, Lord! Take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.´” But Elijah´s plans were not God´s plans. An angel from the Lord came to bring him food and water, “Then strengthen by the food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.”

It is easy to be negative, to see evil and bad intentions in other people, in our own family, friends, and co-workers. We also criticize our church, and even God, some times for no reason. Yes, life has many challenges and difficulties. But there is no reason to be negative, to complain. There is a reason for a positive attitude of life. Better than Elijah, we receive the Eucharistic food that strengthens us to be able to walk “forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God.”: for the rest of our life.

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