Aug. 9, Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle B. Readings:
1) 1 Kings 19:4-8
2) Ephesians 4:30-5:2
Gospel: John 6:41-51
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
Several years ago, a young friend of mine was convicted of a crime.
Sam always was — and is — your basic “fine young man.” A thoughtful son and brother, he was a very good student and responsible part-time employee while working his way through college. However, he got drawn into a moneymaking enterprise that was illegal.
He was sentenced to two years in a program set up specifically to rehabilitate first-time, nonviolent offenders at a facility far from home. It would involve group and individual counseling as well as physical labor.
The court allowed him to live with his parents for several months between the time he was sentenced and the date he was to report to the detention center. It was a dark period for Sam as he felt a great deal of shame, remorse and anxiety about what would happen to him over the next two years.
His father was a regular attendee at 6 a.m. daily Mass and, with his life upended, Sam began to go along. He was much like Elijah in this week’s first reading who lay under a tree feeling defeated until an angel encouraged him to rise and take nourishment — and then take more.
Sam, too, rose each morning in the early hours when he could sit quietly in the one place where he felt accepted for what was good in him. There he received the nourishment of Jesus in the Eucharist every day until he had to leave to begin serving his time.
At the detention center, Sam realized how much he needed the daily bread of Christ’s life, so he attended Mass whenever it was offered. Like Elijah, Sam needed strength for the difficult journey he had to make. What he chose for sustenance was “the living bread that came down from heaven.”
It enabled him to see the importance of his own life. He did everything that was asked of him in the rehabilitation program and returned home healthy and ready to move ahead.
Filled with the confidence of Jesus’ presence within him, he was at peace about his future because he was fortified — not once but continually — by the bread that would give him strength and life forever.
When have you felt truly strengthened by Jesus as the bread of life? How do you experience nourishment through continually receiving the Eucharist?