Eat and

“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

Elijah is both literally and spiritually in the wilderness in today’s first reading. He is so despondent that he asks the Lord to take his life.

Elijah had engaged with the worldly prophets of Baal and Asherah, the false gods that the people of Israel had come to adore. With God’s power he destroyed those prophets and any hope their false gods could deliver. We would think that he would have had a new found confidence, obviously, look at what the One and true God had done. But something is wrong. Elijah experiences a sense of failure, some kind of downer emotion that is not at all obvious to anyone. It is inside him, a nagging evil that leaves him deflated, despondent, depressed, and ready to die. He sits under the Broom tree; the end has to be now.

Most of us have experienced hard situations like Elijah did. We may feel down even though all around us seems great. There may be true miracles in our lives, but we take a different message from them. We grow sad or even despondent.

This story is repeated many times in scripture. Hagar lays Ishmael under a bush and waits to die. Jonah sits under the Castor Bean tree and is angry and despondent.

Some people calls these times ‘bumps in the road,’ but they are more than that to us when we are in the middle. Previously, Elijah was seen as assured and triumphant. He seemed to have no problem finding his way, yet now we see a very different Elijah, an Elijah sharing more in common with Hagar and Jonah. All were, at one time, seen as the blessed of God. Yet they came to ask: ‘Where is the blessing?’

The answer and blessing, as always, comes from God. While we meet a very different Elijah, we meet the same Lord who ministered to Hagar and Jonah. We meet the true God who feeds us, provides drink, gives strength, and shows the way. Elijah’s story, that of Jonah and Hagar, invite us to get up, to eat and continue moving forward. Just as God stays close to Elijah in order to help him overcome his travails, we must have the same confidence that God is present and will be present in our lives; He stays close to us. It is always down to Jesus’ promise: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever”

Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I can’t do it anymore.
I have all you need to continue.

“This is enough, O LORD!”

Back at the castle, Jezebel heard how Elijah’s God had made hers look foolish. She also heard that her prophets were dead and that Israel had gone back to God. So she sent a little note to Elijah: “May the gods kill me if I don’t make you just as dead as my prophets!” She meant it. She had killed before. Elijah suddenly felt very alone. You can just imagine the people backing away from him. The wicked queen had sworn she would get him. Elijah needed a friend. He looked around, but it seemed like the only one standing with him was his personal servant. At such a frightening time in Elijah’s life, he needed reassurance, a reason to go on.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed for death.

Many of us have watched the Olympics. We have seen competitors break 34 world records and 67 Olympic record including 28 broken by Americans and 3 by Poles.

Manteo Mitchell of the United States 4×400-meter relay team was running when he felt the pop in his leg. He said, “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half”
The sprinter had half a lap to go in the first leg of the preliminaries and a choice to make: keep running or stop and lose the race. To him, it was never much of a choice.

He finished the lap and limped to the side to watch his team finish the race and qualify easily for the final. A few hours later, doctors confirmed what he suspected: He had run the last 200 meters with a broken leg.

We aren’t often confronted with the threat of being murdered, or having to finish a race with a broken leg, but Jesus knew that we would be confronted by all sorts of challenges, including the ones Jesus faced today, lack of faith, doubt, and murmuring. He knew that we all face the challenge of mortality.

Knowing all this, He gave us what we need to continue, to go on, and to have a hope that is more powerful than any challenge, even death.

Jesus is our strength. He is what we need to continue, the Bread that came down from heaven that gives eternal life. With Him and in Him there is nothing to fear, there is all we need to continue. With His strength we can not only finish the race, but finish winning!