posted on August 12, 2012 16:15
Homily: Deacon Terry Ellerman
Blessed Sacrament Parish
August 12, 2012 - 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 A.M. Service
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Do we really know how great a God we have - how compassionate he is, how much he truly loves us, and how he is always there for us?
In our second reading for today from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, Paul says to the early Christian community, “You're special people. You've been sealed by the spirit and because of that we need to be imitators of Christ. We need to be people who are kind, compassionate, and loving.” The questions the early Christians asked themselves, and we ask ourselves today, “Are we kind? Are we compassionate? Are we loving? And the answer we give is, “Sometimes we are, and sometimes we are not.”
You know we live in a world that isn't an easy life. We live in a world where there are lots of ups and downs. We live in a world where the materialistic world continues to call us to do things that are not kind and loving and forgiving.
Many people are caught up in all kinds of addictions, many people have financial difficulties or with relationships. All those things are things that we have in our world. But how do we deal with them? Do we throw up our hands and say, “There's nothing we can do”? Or do we come to God and say, “No”?
In the first reading today from the Book of Kings, we have Elijah. Elijah is a lot like us in many ways. I am going to go back a couple of chapters before the reading today so you can understand what is going on. Elijah was a prophet, and like most prophets who were called by God, he did not want to be one. To be a prophet is not a good thing to be because you are the spokesman for God. You are the one who goes into a community and says, “You are doing this wrong, and you are doing this wrong, and you are doing this wrong, and change.” A prophet is not very well liked.
Elijah went to the northern Kingdom. And there was a King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. And Ahab was a follower of Yahweh until he met Jezebel.
And when they got married all of a sudden they are not worshiping Yahweh, but they are worshiping the god Baal. Elijah went up there and said, “You can't do that. It's not right. There's only one God and his name is Yahweh.”
So he got the priests and the prophets for the god Baal together and he said, “I've got a deal for you. We're going to have a contest. Winner take all. Your going to build your altar with wood and everything you do, we'll sacrifice an animal, we'll put the animal on top and then you call on your God to light the fire for that worship to be to him. Whoever loses, the priests and prophets will be killed.”
“If I lose, I'll be killed,” Elijah said.
So the priests and prophets of Baal built their altar and prayed to their god and said, “Light the fire so the sacrifice can be made to you.” It doesn't happen. They dance around the altar, and it still doesn't happen.
Finally, Elijah goes over to his altar, the altar that he has built for Yahweh. He says, “Dig a ditch around the altar. Fill it with water and put water on the wood, and they did. He then called up Yahweh and said, “Light the fire to be offered up to you.”
What do you think happened? It became a flame and then a blaze and the sacrifice was made to their God. The prophets and the priests of the god Baal were then killed.
Elijah then found out that when Queen Jezebel heard what had happened she was furious and said, “Elijah will be dead today.” So what do you think he did? He ran. He ran south as fast as he could. He ran out of water, he ran out of food, he was tired and exhausted and didn't know what to do.
He saw this broom tree, which was a shade tree, and he laid down under it and said, “God, please take my life. My life isn't worth living. Life is too hectic” - just like many times we may say those same words - I just don't know how to deal with this.”
So he lays down and falls asleep. But God didn't take his life. Instead God sent an angel, and the angel came and woke Elijah up and gave him bread and some water and he ate. Then he went back to sleep. The angel awakened him again, gave him bread and water and said, “You're going to go on a journey.”
So he did. He walked 40 days and 40 nights to the Mount of Horeb, which is also called Mount Sinai, where God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. He then talked with God and God said, “You screwed up. You walked all these hundred miles in the wrong direction. You need to go back to Jezebel and take care of her.” And so he does.
But the point of the reading today is this - that God loves us and he cares for us. When we look at the Old Testament, did God take care of his people? When the Israelites were leaving Egypt and going to the Promised Land, did God provide them manna? Of course he did, and more. Elijah, in the state that he was in, called on God - and did God take care of him? Yes, he did.
We now come to the Gospel reading. The Old Testament is a foreshadowing of what's to come. We see how God fed the people with bread. Now we see Jesus, and what does Jesus say? He says to the Jews, “I am from heaven. God has sent me and I am the bread that is given to you that will give you eternal life.”
What did the Jews say? “No way. We know your mom and dad. We know Mary and Joseph, we know that you're the son of a carpenter. And you're telling us you're from heaven! No way.” And Jesus said, “I am from heaven. And the bread that I give - will give eternal life to all who receive it.”
The message today is this. We in our own lives have our ups and downs. We have all sorts of problems. If we try to deal with them by ourselves, we are doomed to fail. But if we call on God, if we call on Jesus to help us, we have that support we need to get through whatever endeavor it happens to be.
For Jesus truly is the bread of life. We come here every Sunday to praise God, and we come to this altar to receive his body and blood, his real presence. We do that to be nourished, to help us on our journey just as Elijah needed it on his journey.
So today truly we come - to taste and to see the goodness of God