Saturday, August 11, 2018

19th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 12.08.2018

1 Kings 19:4-8 / Ephesians 4:30 – 5:2 / John 6:41-51
Human beings have very simple and basic needs, and they are food, clothing, and shelter. When these needs are met, then the next level of needs come in and they are security, achievement and affection. And then finally it could be self-fulfillment and contentment. That’s a simple way to put it.

Understood in that way, the very basic needs in life is to have something to eat, something to wear and somewhere to go back to. Generally speaking, we all have that, so it can be said that our basic needs in life are met.

When these basic needs are met, then comes the longing and yearning for security and comfort, for achievement and success, for affection and love.

Come to think of it, the Singapore National Pledge has elements to these when it says: “to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”

So in life, we must know what the essential and primary needs are. When these needs are met, then we can be happy and contented and we will begin to realise who we are and understand the meaning of life.

So we know and understand the basic and essential needs of life and that will enable us to find happiness and fulfillment in our lives.

What is not so easy is to understand is this desire for more, this feeling of not having enough, and not being enough. As much as this “not enough” may drive us to strive for more, yet we must also be careful that it does not draw us down the slippery slope of greed and selfishness.

But in the 1st reading, we read that the prophet Elijah said this: Lord, I have had enough. Take my life.

Certainly, it was not because he was feeling contented, that he had enough, and so he wants to go back to the Lord.

On the contrary, he had no food, no shelter, no safety as the troops were hunting for him. As a prophet, he had his success – he worked miracles, he stopped the rain for 3 and a half years, he called down fire from heaven in his victory over the false prophets.

But now, being stripped of everything, except his clothing, and in danger of losing his life, he cried out to the Lord, “I have had enough”. With no meaning and direction, with no safety and security, with nothing left, then it would be better to end it all. 

So he sat under the furze bush and he wished he was dead. He went to sleep and maybe wishing that he won’t wake up.

But an angel came along with bread and water woke him up and told him to eat. He ate but then he went back to sleep again. But the angel woke him up again and told him to eat and drink and get moving.

So he got up, ate and drank, and strengthened by that food he made that 40-day journey to Horeb, the mountain of God, where he will experience the power and might of God, and regain his direction and mission as the prophet of God.

When Elijah thought of ending it all, God provided him with a simple meal of bread and water and that was enough for him to get up and get going.

So if that simple bread and water was enough for Elijah, then what will it be to make us know that we will have enough and that there is nothing more we shall want?

Jesus tells us in the gospel that He is the living bread that has come down from heaven. He even says “I am the bread of life” and “anyone who eats this bread will live forever”, and “everybody who believes this will have eternal life”.

Now isn’t that more than enough? When we come up for Holy Communion, we partake of this living bread from heaven, this bread of life, and if we believe, we will have eternal life and live forever.

But that is if we believe. So do we truly believe? Because if we do, then we will also know that all our needs are fulfilled and we too would want to tell others about this living bread, this bread of life.

And the meaning and directions of our lives would also be clear, as we know where we are heading towards and who we are heading towards. 

There is this story of a student who came before a holy man and asked him to pray for him for good exam results.

The holy man replied, “Sure, I will pray for you for good results. When you get the good results, then what?”

“Then I will go to the university.”
“Then what?”
“Then I will study hard and get a good degree.”
“Then what?”
“Then I will look for a good job with a good pay.”
“Then what?”
“Then I will work hard and get promoted.”
“Then what?”
“Then I will get married and have children.”
“Then what?”
“Then I will save up for my retirement and enjoy life.”
“Then what?”
“And then … and then …”

So when our physical and material needs are fulfilled and we have enough in life, can we truly say that we are contented and happy with life?

Jesus says that He is the living bread which has come down from heaven, that He is the bread of life.

So even if we have enough in life, or when we, like Elijah, feel like shouting “I have had enough!”, Jesus will come to us offering us the bread of life.

This is the only bread that will give us the strength to journey from this life to eternal life.

Let us receive worthily this bread from heaven, and let us also tell others about this bread of life.