August 8 Reflection

Ah, imagine a hot August afternoon, and you’ve got to mow the lawn, like it or not, as the humidity forces a stream of perspiration to run down your back. But you have to mow to get the yard ready for the Sunday cookout. Extended family and some guests coming.  You couldn’t do this the day before because of a steady rain.  All you really want to do is hit the hammock and enjoy a cold beer, and catch about 45 winks.

Or imagine you’re the hostess for a garden party, but you’re more than a little tired because the baby wrecked your sleep last night.  But the potato salad isn’t done, and the table is yet to be set.  All you really want to do is sip some of your favorite wine while comfortably stretched out on the chaise in the shade.  Both of you would prefer to give up the tasks or call the whole thing off.  These are just two down to earth examples of our weak selves confronting jobs that have to get done, along with the strong temptation not to do them.

We read today about one of God’s chosen prophets, Elijah, who had decided as part of his job to go on a pilgrimage to far off Mt. Horeb. It would be a daunting trip, but had to be taken.  Horeb, after all, was the mount where Moses spoke with God. Maybe God would help him, Elijah, to be refreshed and renewed.  But he got drowsy from desert heat and became so heartsick that even suicide was tempting. So Elijah lay down.  Suddenly an angel appeared to him holding an energizing cake and a skin of water.  He tells Elijah to get up and move on.  God had just sent him the strength to do it.

Centuries later, our gospel describes how the authentic Bread, the Bread of Life, which is Jesus Himself, urges His audience to eat this Bread, if they wish to live here and hereafter.  As believers, trying every day to live the Christian life, in the midst of some powerful 21st century temptations to wealth, power and fame, we know this vital truth about the sustaining food that is Jesus.  On any given Sunday we walk forward to receive Holy Communion believing it with all our heart to be the whole Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

But a question does arise, now especially when there are so many non-believers who took a U-turn away from our Catholic Church.  Have you or I possibly grown nonchalant about this great Sacrament?  Do we bracket the Sundays of our lives off to the side as a lesser issue, while we go about doing “the really important stuff”?  Or so we think it is?

One more task for your imagination.  Now it’s 10 minutes before your death.  You may be lying sick in a hospital or at home. Or worse still, going about “doing your thing” not knowing what’s 10 minutes away. Do you think you’d really be anxious about your ordinary concerns? I doubt it.

Well, here we are on an August morning in 2021. You’re very much alive and well. Time to ponder an essential item for your diet.

In the sacristies of Mother Teresa’s Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity all over the world, one can see a little board hanging to remind each priest that he should celebrate Mass with devotion, freshness, contemplation and enthusiasm.  The board reads: “Priest of God, celebrate this Mass as if it is your first Mass; your last Mass, and your only Mass.”  I believe that would make for good wording on a large board hanging up in the body of every chapel, church or cathedral in the world, as long the salutation were changed to read: “People of God.”  Wouldn’t that be a true “sign for the times”?

Reading I:  I Kings 19: 4-8Elijah the prophet flees from Ahab’s kingdom when that king refused to convert from paganism.  He heads for the southern desert enroute to Mt. Horeb when he is overcome with desolation and wants to die.  Suddenly an angel appears and provides him with food and drink to get up and finish his trip.
Reading II:  Ephesians 4: 30 – 5:2
This section of the Letter presents an illustration of the type of conduct proper to a baptized Christian, who is now endowed with a whole new nature.
The Gospel:  John 6: 41-51
After weathering a dispute that had arisen about His origin, Jesus declares Himself “the Bread of Life,” that gives us the strength we need for the strength to complete our journey home.