1 Kg. 19:4-8 / Ps. 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 / Eph. 4:30-5:2 / Jn. 6:41-51
Sometimes we feel like Elijah in today’s First Reading. We want to lie down and die, keenly aware of our failures, that we seem to be getting no better at doing what God wants of us.
We can be tempted to despair, as the prophet was on his 40-day journey in the desert. We can be tempted to “murmur” against God, as the Israelites did during their forty years in the desert (Exodus 16:2,7,8; 1 Corinthians 10:10).
The Gospel today uses the same word, “murmur,” to describe the crowds, who reenact Israel’s hardheartedness in the desert.
Jesus tells them that prophecies are being fulfilled in him, that they are being taught by God. But they can’t believe it. They can only see his flesh, that he is the “son” of Joseph and Mary.
Yet if we believe, if we seek him in our distress, he will deliver us from our fears, as we sing in today’s Psalm.
At the altar in every Eucharist, the angel of the Lord, the Lord himself (Exodus 3:1-2), touches us. He commands us to take and eat his flesh given for the life of the world (Matthew 26:26).
This taste of the heavenly gift (Hebrews 6:4-5) comes to us with a renewed command — to get up and continue on the journey we began in baptism, to the mountain of God, the kingdom of heaven.
He will give us the bread of life, the strength and grace we need — as he fed our spiritual ancestors in the wilderness and Elijah in the desert.
So let us stop grieving the Spirit of God, as Paul says in today’s Epistle, in another reference to Israel in the desert (Isaiah 63:10).
Let us say to God as Elijah did, “Take my life.” Not in the sense of wanting to die. But in giving ourselves as a sacrificial offering — loving him as he has loved us, on the cross and in the Eucharist.