August 07, 2021
I heard a funny story that relates to today's readings. There was a woman passenger in an airline jet flying for the first time. She was nervous and was reading constantly from her bible. The gentleman sitting next to her asked if she believed everything she read in the bible. She said she did, absolutely. He said, that he didn't. "After all," he said, "how could Jonah survive three days in the belly of a whale?" The woman replied, "I don't know. When I get to heaven, I will ask him." The man said, "Well what if he doesn't get to heaven?" The woman replied, "Well, then you can ask him."
I like that story because it points out this faithful woman's clear understanding that Jesus is God and that one day she would be talking to God in heaven! Our readings today are all about people talking with God. In our reading from First Kings, we hear of the prophet Elijah and he is very frustrated. He is talking with God as he is giving up on life. He has had enough and wants it to end. God sends him food and lets him know that he still has work to do. Sort of like God saying, "Suck it up Elijah, there is work to be done. Don't worry, I will give you the food that you need." Refreshed with the food, Elijah then accomplishes the work God set out for him.
In our Gospel reading from St. John, the people in Jesus' hometown are talking to Jesus, who is God. But they do not recognize him as God. Jesus has told them that he is God and has worked miracles in other towns, but they are not believing him. Jesus lets them, and us know, that believing in him is something that God has invited them, and you and I to do. We have a decision to make. Either we see Jesus as God and begin to live our lives as he taught, or we reject him.
What changes in our lives do we need to make in order to demonstrate that we have accepted Jesus as God? Do we help our brothers and sisters who have less than us? Jesus asks us to help those around us who are in need. Catholic Charities serves those in need. This year, despite the pandemic, all of us here at St. Andrew donated $13,497. We exceeded our goal! Throughout the diocese, $9,037,185 was raised for the needs of people in our community. Helping our neighbors like this happens when we recognize Jesus as God and live as he taught. Many here at St. Andrew also contribute each week to our food pantry. This is another way that we can live out our recognition of Jesus as God. Do we offer our neighbor a ride to church, or the grocery store? Have you contributed to one of our St. Vincent DePaul poor boxes? Many have and these dollars go right to people in this neighborhood. Recognizing Jesus as God also calls us to examine our relationships with others. Do we hold a grudge? Maybe someone who has wronged us. Can we forgive as Jesus taught?
Accepting Jesus as God is hard work! But the reward is so great! Not only does our life become better now, but we spend eternity in heaven â€“ perfect life, perfect truth, and perfect love. And we are not left alone to do this work. In both readings, God provided the food that was needed to nourish so that the work could get done. The people involved were not left alone without help. God gave Elijah help by providing him bread to sustain his body. Jesus offers us far more! The Bread of Life, Holy Communion, that gives us all we need to accomplish the sometimes-difficult task of living as he taught.
Isn't it true that after helping someone out, you feel good? Isn't it true that when you restore a broken relationship you feel good? That is more than a "feeling," it is a glimpse of heaven. And it is placed there by God to encourage you towards your next act of kindness and living as Jesus taught.
This week, let us stop for five minutes and think about what it means to truly receive Jesus in Holy Communion. And as you consider the question of how Jesus could have risen from the dead, know that one day in heaven you will be able to ask him.