The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B, 12th of August 2012

Sometimes we can fail to see things because they are not what we are looking for.  Today's first reading is an example of this.  On the face of it this reading provides us with the account of Elijah who was having a tough time.  So tough, in fact, that he wished he would die.  In his despair God draws near and nourishes him for his journey.  All in all, this is the sort of scenario we would expect from God - the believer is in difficulty and God comes to his help.

However, there is quite a bit more going on in this passage than might seem immediately evident.  The context for this passage gives the story a very strange twist.  Elijah had been engaged in a duel with the prophets of the god Ba'al on Mt. Carmel.  He won the duel and, according to the rules, as the victor he executed them.  So far a victory of God's prophet over the false ones.
These prophets, however, were the favoured ones of Queen Jezebel who also maintained them.  With her favourite prophets dead Jezebel was not happy to say the least.  Elijah was not just wandering in the desert, he was fleeing from a very angry queen who wanted to have him killed.  It is in this context that God draws near to Elijah and nourishes him - so far so good.
However, God leads Elijah for forty days until he arrives at Mt. Sinai (at the opposite side of the country to Mt. Carmel).  Once there God tells Elijah that this is not where he should be at all and sends Elijah back north to rid the country of Queen Jezebel.  Having led Elijah through the desert for such a long time God makes Elijah turn around and face that of which he had been so terrified in the beginning.
I think the message that can be taken from this strange story is that God continues to nourish his faithful even when they are not doing what God wants.  However, God continues to call.

                                                             God gives his faithful strength for the task which he has in mind even though this task may not be revealed, even for quite a long time.  When it is revealed, however, God does not leave much option but to follow the path he is asking because no matter where he leads us we are headed in the direction that he has prepared for us.
No matter how we think we are doing God knows how we are actually doing.  No matter where we think we are headed God is waiting there for us.
We are not forced to follow the path that God has for us but that path will continue to be offered to us until we choose it.
The gospel reading points to something similar.  The jews saw something in Jesus.  They remembered the story of Moses and the mannah in the desert.  They were going to be taken care of in the same way.
Jesus, however, leads them to a different point of view.  The point that Jesus makes is that no one can reach God without God having first taken the initiative.  It is not a question of having our needs satisfied like the jews in the desert.  It is about being drawn in to  Jesus, being transformed, being loved into action.
Our path is there.  We often can't see it.  Until we allow Jesus to love us into action we will never be able to clear the weeds from our path.
                                                             As we advance on our path, sometimes, just like Elijah, we are going to be   led to face the things that frighten us most - unlike Elijah, however, we are nourished by the bread of life Himself who gives us the strength to face whatever may come.


Article posted on 10th of August 2012

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