Bread in the Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

The readings for Sunday, August 9, 2015 are: 1 Kings 19: 4-8, Ephesians 4: 30-5: 2, and John 6. 41-51.

The first reading takes up the story of Elijah after he won the contest with the priests of Baal and then had them all murdered. Jezebel was not too pleased with Elijah. He fled for his own life. He is in the desert, a broken man, praying for death. God said he still had work to do, so miraculously bread and water appear. Reluctantly Elijah eats and drinks and continues the forty-days journey to Horeb, the mountain of God. The simple food and fresh water sustained him. And Elijah lives on and proclaims a good and gracious God.

The reading from 1 Kings was chosen, I’m sure, to fit with the Gospel story. The folks were still gathered around Jesus in Capernaum after feeding them on the other side of the lake. They found him and instead of giving them more bread that will perish, he told them He is the bread from heaven. After a little “murmuring” they listen.

They listened and Jesus preached. Jesus said: “No one can come to me unless DRAWN by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.” So, not on our own can we see the light and come to God. We are “drawn” by God to see God. “And they shall be taught by God,” we are told. Again, what an awesome thought that our Father is our teacher and the creator of all is closer to us than we are to ourselves. And the teaching goes on as long as we live.

And from the depths of our hearts we come to long more and more for the God who created and sustains us. And God teaches us to go to Jesus, the Bread of Life. And from the Welcome Table, we not only receive the peace that comes from knowing we will be saved and live forever, but the strength to spread that message to all we meet.

“The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Jesus, is not given only for our salvation, but to strengthen us to bring that Good News to others. You become the instrument that “draws” others to God through Jesus, “for the life of the world.”

And the “life of the world” is not just a spiritual life. This bringing “Good News” to others is not just pious words and good feelings. It is truly bringing life were there is none or where it has been snuffed out. Jesus didn’t give us His Body and Blood to make us feel good. He did it so we can bring life to the world.

Jesus did not get in trouble with the political and religious leaders because He went around saying “This is my Body, this is my Blood.” He got in trouble and got murdered because he said everybody is of value, everybody is God’s child. He pointed out the selfishness and arrogance of the leaders, those who placed burdens on people and would not lift a finger to help. If He were here now He would say “Black Lives Matter.”  Not for solace only, but for strength to speak out, do we receive the Bread of Life.

We must love others as we love ourselves. Paul says in Ephesians: “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”