2018-08-12, 19th B, The Ups and Downs, and Life!

Homily 08-12-18
19th Sunday Ordinary Time, Cycle B
1 Kgs 19:4-8; Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Eph 4:30-5:2; Jn 6:41-51

(Scriptures included after homily)

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Four-times in today’s Gospel, we heard that Jesus came DOWN from heaven.  And two-times in our First Reading we heard how a very depressed Elijah lay himself DOWN for a sleep of death.  So we might say, that in general, going DOWN is not always a very good direction.

As a matter of fact, not only can we cite numerous references, throughout the Bible, about going DOWN to the netherworld and UP to heaven; but even in our secular lives, we can be downsized, or downtrodden, under the weather, or put DOWN;

While, to the contrary, we can be raised UP in spirits, receive a raise in our job, we can live in the Highlands, be high on the hog, or have our heads UP in the clouds.

So in response to Elijah’s downtrodden demise, we heard how God’s Angel ordered him – to get UP.  And then he offered Elijah nourishment to strengthen him for the long journey ahead.

And keep in mind, that the reason for Elijah’s terrible depression and his journey into the desert in the first place, was that King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was out to have him killed.

And the reason for the Angel’s extension of Elijah’s journey, was to restore his strength and his confidence.

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Now, as we said, Jesus also came DOWN.  But Jesus didn’t go DOWN out of fear and dejection, like Elijah.  Jesus came DOWN, like God’s Angel, to raise us UP, and to nourish and strengthen us for our journey back UP to God.

Of course we know that Jesus’ ‘coming DOWN’ was not without great cost to Himself, either.  Coming DOWN is never easy, nor pretty.  But sometimes one has to go DOWN in order to help others, or themselves, to go UP even higher.  It’s just one of those facts of life.  One of those facts that only ‘the LIVING’ can understand.

You see, God created every Living being on the earth to grow UP: from the plants to the trees, from the animals, to even us people, we ALL grow UP.

And whatever is NOT Living is destined to fall DOWN: from the tall buildings to the wealthy organizations, and even the mountains; ALL the non-Living will eventually fall DOWN.  Thus, we hear the saying that, “What is of the earth returns back DOWN – to the earth.  But what is of heaven will always go back UP – to heaven.”

So then we might ask,
“But, where does all that leave us?” . . .

Because we’re all, well aware, that our earthly bodies WILL, one-day DIE and return back DOWN to the earth.  And we’re all too familiar with that Ash Wednesday chant: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

But we also know that the Life of God within us, will NEVER Die.

And yet, there is a connection, between our dusty flesh and
our glorious, Spirit of Life.  A connection that is SO intrinsically United, that we can’t even distinguish the difference…

– save for ONE, very important Factor:
God’s gift of our Free Will.

You see, BY that gift of Free Will, we can choose to BELIEVE in God, to Believe in Jesus, to Believe in the Spirit dwelling within us; and then, to live according to the desires of God’s Spirit . . .

FREE from bitterness, and fury, and anger;
FREE from shouting, and reviling, and malice; . . .

OR,

we can, just as well, choose to refuse to believe.  By that same Spirit dwelling within every one of us, we can choose to insist that God’s Spirit does not even exist.

It would be like looking into a mirror and insisting that there is no image, and that there is no body.  And in doing so, all the bitterness and anger, shouting and malice will be free – to dwell within us, instead.

BUT . . .

If we choose BELIEF, as did the prophet Elijah and St. Paul.  If we choose to imitate God, as His beloved children and to live in Love, as Christ loved us, as St. Paul so clearly advised his Church in Ephesus, then, Jesus tells us, that we will have Eternal Life . . .

Where “Eternal Life” IS that Union of our body, and our soul,
and our God; nourished through this journey, (DOWN here on good ole’ planet earth, with all of its living and non-living elements), nourished by the TRUE Bread from heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ.

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You see, there really is more than just some ground DOWN wheat, and some crushed UNDER grapes in this Blessed Sacrament of ours.

And there was more than just a burning desert baking and an airless fermentation that changed those Living plants and fruit
into Lifeless forms of food.

Jesus didn’t come DOWN to merely delay our bodily death with some more food! We could have had pizza and b…, well, some other drink, for that!

But Jesus DID come DOWN as the LIVING Bread from heaven: ground DOWN, crushed UNDER, and buried, Jesus transforms that Lifeless bread and wine into HIS Living Body and Blood . . .

– in order to RAISE us UP,
just as He was RAISED to Eternal Glory,
Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity!

When we receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, we receive LIFE.

Life SO Full, Life SO Glorious, that even the concept of mourning death becomes utter nonsense to us.  For death is just the gateway to TRUE Life – UP in the heavenly Glory of God our Father.

And that IS the very best growing UP
that we can ever possibly choose!

Blessed be God forever!

 jmp 08-12-18

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 08-12-18
Nineteenth Sunday Ordinary Time, B

First Reading:  1 Kgs 19:4-8

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.  He prayed for death saying: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.

Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, “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.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad.

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Glorify the LORD with me, Let us together extol his name. I sought the LORD, and he answered me And delivered me from all my fears.

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.  And your faces may not blush with shame. When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard, And from all his distress he saved him.

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.  Taste and see how good the LORD is; blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Second Reading: Eph 4:30—5:2

Brothers and sisters: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.  All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.

And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

Gospel:  Jn 6:41-51

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother?  Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves.  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.

It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.  Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

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