Celebrate Sunday Mass - 8.8.21
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8/8/2021 (1 month ago)
By Deacon Keith FournierAUGUST 8, 2021 -- 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...
I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS ON THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY in OORDINARY TIME in the Catholic Diocese of Tyler. The response to offering these liturgies online has been overwhelming. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them before we assist at Holy Mass.
Many people have heard of the dramatic encounter between the Prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal which occurred on Mount Carmel. It is recorded in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Kings in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament
.Elijah was confronted by men who rejected the God of Israel and worshipped a false god, Baal. Inspired by the Lord, he issued a challenge to them. He called for a dramatic test to determine whose God is the true God; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or the false "god" named Baal. The prophets of Baal are to build an altar and call upon their "god" to send fire to consume their sacrifice. They did so and nothing happened.
Because Elijah built an altar to the true God. His prayer was answered. The sacrifice he offered was consumed by Fire from heaven. The God of Israel, the one whom Christians know to be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, intervened in a dramatic fashion on Mount Carmel.
However, some are not as familiar with the story that follows whichwe heard today as our first reading. After Elijah had confronted the prophets of Baal he learned of a threat upon his life from Jezebel, a wicked queen whom he greatly feared. He ran for cover, seeking refuge under a broom tree. He begged the Lord to take his life.
There, he encountered the Lord again. He sent an angel to wake Elijah up and provided bread and water. We read:
"Elijah went a day's journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: "This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers." He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water."
The account continues, "After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, "Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!" He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food; he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb." (1 Kgs. 19:4-8)
During his fear and desolation, the Lord visited him under that broom tree. He cared for him. He provided nourishment.
Sometimes, it is in our own places of struggle, our "Broom tree" of sorts, where we learn much of what we need for the journey of life. I spend a lot of time under that tree as I get older. Only now, as the years have passed, I have learned to welcome it. I have come to see it as a holy place, a place of invitation.
It is often the case that when I feel the least able to continue the struggle, I surrender myself to the One who is always there. The Lord always comes through.
In our second reading we heard a portion of the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Our excerpt is from the end of the fourth chapter where the Apostle is giving some rules for living the New Life.
Christianity is a New Way of Living. It is not simply about what we do on Sunday or the "religious" part of our lives. Being Christian calls for a new way of living our entire life. A new way of loving the Lord, and one another in Him.
Before they were called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) the followers of Jesus Christ were referred to as "the Way".
The Apostle Paul wrote of having persecuted "this Way" prior to encountering the Risen Lord on the Road to Damascus. (See, Acts of the Apostles, chapter 22:3-16) The expression, "The Way" discloses the self-understanding of the early Christians. They believed, proclaimed, and lived their Christian faith as a new way of being human. Our own relationship with Jesus Christ and membership in His Mystical Body, the Church, is meant to be experienced in the same way.
Our Gospel appointed for this 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time continues the Bread of Life discourse. In the verses before what we heard today, Jesus had just told the people who followed Him "I am the Bread of Life and He who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst" (John 6:35) Following that wonderful claim, some of the Jewish people, those who did not believe He was the Messiah, began to question Him and questions His identity.
Jesus referred to the story of the Exodus, which they all knew well. The Lord fed the People of Israel, Manna from heaven. Jesus makes a claim which even further astonishes them. That he is the true bread which comes down from Heaven. The Living Bread. He tells them the bread He shall give is His flesh for the life of the World.
The Bible, the early Church Fathers, the Christian Tradition, and the Magisterium, the teaching office of the Catholic Church, all teach clearly that the bread and wine consecrated at Holy Mass truly become the Body & Blood of Jesus Christ the Divine Son of God. This great mystery is at the heart of the Catholic Christian faith.
Do we truly believe that in the Holy Eucharist we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ?
And, if we believe and respond, we shall never die.
Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
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