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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B

Homily Suggestions:

1 Kgs 19:4-8
Eph 4:30 - 5:2
Jn 6:41-51

Elijah was fed on his journey to Horeb; the Israelites were fed on their journey to the Promised Land; we are fed on our journey to Heaven. In all three cases, God does the feeding. We also see that in all three cases, God’s children complain when they face the struggles of the journey. The greatest temptation is to fail to trust God – and a failure to trust is what often leads to the devastating results we see in the Culture of Death.

In their desert journey (see Exodus 15-17), the sin of the Israelites was to grumble in distrust. Their lack of trust, in fact, was the reason they had to wander for forty years instead of going directly on a journey that could have only taken a few weeks. Even when God fed them with manna, they continued to grumble, getting tired of the same food every day. Some even wanted to go back to Egypt. Slavery seemed less challenging. At least they knew what to expect.

The Gospel passage from John 6 is like a replay of that desert grumbling. “The Jews murmured about Jesus,” John says – just like they had murmured about the manna. We grumble too about the difficulties of the journey, which is why Paul has to give the Ephesians the admonitions he gives in today’s second reading.

But Paul also gives the answer: “Be imitators of God…Live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering…” The Gospel passage shows how Christ hands himself over to us – in the flesh and on the cross – that we may have life.

Christ is Himself our bread of life, enabling us to live lives that are patterned on his own sacrifice. He is the strength for our journey in which we are called to give ourselves away. Some grumble about having to sacrifice, but we see sacrifice as a life-giving gift. Some grumble because things get in the way of their plans for life. But God commanded the Israelites to gather only the manna they needed for the day, and we pray for God to give us “our daily bread.” God is already in our future; yes, we must plan certain things, but we must trust for even more. The more we trust, and the more we sacrifice, the more we will give life, and the less we will grumble.

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