Have you ever had a meal with someone you loved, someone who really care for you? When you leave that place, do feel loved, cared for, supported, and even strengthened? The readings for this weekend tell us that God has special love for his people.
In the first reading we see Elijah’s discouragement and frustration as he fled for his life. King Ahab of Israel married a pagan queen, Jezebel, and erected an altar to Ball. The prophet Elijah challenged 450 of the pagan god Baal’s prophets and defeated them. Queen Jezebel found out what Elijah did to Baal’s prophets and was angry, sending soldiers to kill the prophet. Elijah fled for his life. He was walking through the desert, became exhausted, and fell into a sleep under a broom tree while he was asking for a speedy death. God’s love for Elijah provided for him. God sent an angel who woke him up and said, "Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!" God’s gift of food provided nourishment and strengthened him so he could continue on his journey to Horeb where Elijah would be commissioned again as God’s prophet to carry on the struggle and anoint his successor.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” God offers his people abundant life, but we can miss it. Jesus offers the very life of God himself - life which sustains us, not only now in this age, but also in the age to come. He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience.
We saw in the Gospel that the Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." To accept the gift of the Bread of Life, they had to first accept that Jesus was more than human. He was Divine. To understand the miracle and mystery of communion, our starting point must be that Jesus is Divine, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He gives us who He is: Eternal Life. When we receive the Eucharist, we are united to Him, to each other, and to the whole Body of Christ.
The people had a hard time accepting Jesus, the bread of life. They murmured. Are there still people who murmur about the Eucharist? There are people who don’t know the true meaning of the Eucharist. Every Sunday, and for some of us, every day, we enter into the Mystery of the Eucharist. We receive the One who is the Bread of Life. Do we murmur?
What do I have to offer at the Eucharist? We have to think about what we want to offer every time we come for the Eucharist. It may be for someone in our family who is sick, or our own disappointments and struggles. It may be a victory or joy in our life.
Today, what are the expenses of my offering? It may be how I prepare myself for the Eucharist. I may have to get up early and take time to get ready. I had to give up some other activities or fun to get here to be in the Lord’s presence to celebrate Eucharist. There is an expense.
The Eucharistic celebration should not be a casual get together; it is a grand celebration. It should not be time to murmur, it is a great meal, sacrifice, and thanksgiving. We may be tempted to murmur. Let us stop and think, “What I am missing?” God says, "Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!"