12 August 2012 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kgs 19:4-8; Psalm 34; Eph 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51
We have said what the prophet Elijah uttered in the first reading, “Lord, this is enough.” On his journey to Mount Horeb, he was broken, tired, weary and dispirited. At the lowest point in his life, the Lord’s angel comes to his rescue by feeding him with miraculous hearth bread and a jug of water. His dying hope was restored by this bread from heaven and continues his journey to Mt. Horeb where God will give him a new vision in the form of a gentle, silent breeze. This will give Elijah much courage and faith to move on and to face the challenges of his mission.
Our life as Catholic Christians is never a sweet smooth ride. We often find ourselves, like Elijah, in our bleakest moment, dispirited and crushed, helpless and hopeless. And I am sure, this is the same experience of those affected by the flood, from the past Ondoy disaster to the recent monsoon deluge. But we know why they would still return to their homes. They have nowhere else to go nor do they have the resources to put up residence on higher ground.
To keep going in our own life-disasters, we need the assurance that we are not alone in our lives. We need the guarantee that God will give us relief by carrying our crosses, and rescue us from every predicament that befalls us. The Gospel today reminds us that Christ is the bread of life, the one who feeds us, sustains us, and rescues us from our wounded souls, our wearied spirits, our broken bodies.
We call ourselves, the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit resides in us. We are profoundly “Jesus” in the world today. That is why, we bear His name. We are called “Christians” – Of Christ. And what we have seen with our own eyes reminds us that Jesus indeed feeds us.
We know who we are. We know our limitations. We are never perfect. But in our “small-ness,” we know we can contribute something. A photo in Facebook says, “The Filipino spirit is water proof.” Let’s see:
a. We have made more than 27,402 food packs, thus feeding more than what we expected we could.
b. We have sustained the life of people in the evacuation centers. We have rescued them from hunger and from their wearied souls.
c. Through us, the Lord has been the Bread of Life to them.
d. And conversely, we have been nourished too by our very service.
When we are at service, we are fully and truly who we are and what we were meant to be. St. Ignatius said that only God can give peace. Miraculously, after all our work, we are peaceful, happy, and fulfilled – These are God’s gifts. We are at peace when our hearts are aligned to His.
And why are we here today? We are here in thanksgiving. We thank the Lord for many things in our lives, including the opportunity to serve others, to give back, and to pay it forward. We would call it, “doing the magis” or “practicing charity and generosity.” Remember, we would pray St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity at every shift while running the Ateneo HS #reliefPH kitchen.
But today, we would also spend some moments in great silence. To cease “doing something” but to let our inner souls be receptive to God’s voice. Fr. Jett Villarin SJ, President of the Ateneo de Manila University, asked the following question last night at the closing mass of the relief operations of our university: “Have you ever trained your ears, your souls, to also listen to God saying to you, ‘Thank you?’”
This is the reason why in Ignatian Spirituality, we spend a few moments in silence, like the one-minute silence bell. It is to train our inner ears. You see, centuries ago, Elijah heard the voice of the Lord not in the roaring wind in Mt. Horeb, but in a gentle breeze. We are uplifted with a simple word of thanks. The Lord says that to us now. Perhaps, the people who received the bread you cooked, made, packed in the last three days of disaster is saying too, “Maraming salamat.”
We spend a minute in silence to train our ears.