The readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time demonstrate
how God’s word enters man in order to transform man into God. We are
immediately reminded of that passage in the Book of Hebrews which
states: “Indeed, the Word of God is living and effective, sharper than
any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints
and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”
Word of God comes to Elijah because he’s in trouble. He gave miraculous
witness to God on Mount Carmel against the false prophets. Now he’s
running for his life because Jezebel sent an army to kill him.
is far into the desert and just wants to die. “This is enough, O Lord!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” We might say that
he’s touched with more than just a tinge of self-pity.
of God prepares food, awakens him and orders him to eat. He ate and
wanted to sleep more, but the angel said that he’s to go on a long
journey. He ate, then walked 40 days and 40 nights to the mountain of
God, Horeb, where God was waiting with a message. He truly needed God’s
word to enter his heart and set him free.
There God spoke to him,
not in earthquakes, or thunder and lightning, or the rending of rocks,
but in a tiny whisper. Essentially, he’s told to go back to prophesying
in Israel, and God will send support. When acting on his own, Elijah was
a failure. With God’s words to rouse him, he again became a powerful
The responsorial psalm reinforces this theme: “Taste and
see the goodness of the Lord.” Again, “The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear Him and delivers them. Taste and see how good the
Lord is; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
The angel delivered Elijah from his self-pity and God’s word became food to re-energize him for ministry.
letter to the Ephesians tells us that the word of God leads us to
reject “all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling.” That word,
when accepted in our hearts, will lead us to be “kind to one another,
compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven (us) in
Christ.” Accepting God’s word into our hearts enables us to become more
like Christ who “loved us and handed Himself over for us as a
sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.”
In the Gospel,
Jesus tells the Jews, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” When
they murmured against Him, He said to them, “Stop murmuring among
yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw
him, and I will raise him on the last day…Everyone who listens to my
Father and learns from Him comes to me.”
What does it mean to be
drawn by the Father? It means that God puts into our hearts a hunger to
delight in the person and teachings of His Son Jesus. Psalm 37 tells us:
“Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.”
Augustine tells us: “There is a certain craving of the heart to which
that bread of heaven is sweet. … A person is drawn to Christ when he
delights in the truth, when he delights in blessedness, delights in
righteousness, delights in everlasting life.”
When you delight in
the teachings of Jesus, when you are drawn to the Jesus in the
Eucharist, know that this is the work of our heavenly Father.
continues, “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will
give is My flesh for the life of the world.”
St. John Chrysostom
explains, “This is why He has mixed up Himself with us. He has kneaded
up His body with ours, so that we might be one distinct entity, like a
body joined to a head.”
In the world of nature, higher forms of
life absorb lower forms. Plants absorb minerals and animals eat plants.
Man feeds on plants and animals. Christ’s life in the Eucharist is more
powerful than our human nature, so the Eucharist absorbs us into Christ.
We are transformed into Christ when we receive Him worthily.
is why the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist takes away venial
sin. Christ’s love for us in the Eucharist is more powerful than our
attachments to sin. We need to allow His love for us in the Eucharist to
have a freedom in our lives. We need to allow the Holy Eucharist to
absorb our attachments to sin. We need to allow Jesus in the Eucharist
to love us as we are.
St. John Chrysostom continues, “Let us then
return from that table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible
to the devil, ruminating on our head and on the love that He has shown
for us.” In other words, we need to become aware in our head and in our
hearts that Christ’s love for us in the Eucharist is more powerful than
our sins or than Satan.
When you receive Him in the Holy
Eucharist, just know that His love in you is more powerful than your
sinfulness. In silence, give Him permission to allow His love to
inundate your body, soul and spirit. Surrender totally to His
transforming love. His love will enter you silently and inundate your