Nineteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year B
August 8, 2021 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
I Kings 19:4-8 | Psalm 34:2-9
Ephesians 4:30-5:02 | John 6:41-51
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
Do you believe in angels? Have you ever met an angel?
Since God works through people to help us and to save us, when events happen in our lives when we are rescued from peril or survive a medical emergency, for example, we typically say to those who help us “You’re an angel!” or “An angel sent you.”
Angels might be close friends, family members, or even someone you just happen to encounter. But when you reach perilous times in your life, if you are a believer, you know that God will send someone to help you.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”
There once was a young couple, who rented a house out in the country. It was their first home together, and it was situated on a commuter road, so there was heavy traffic in the morning as people drove to work and heavy traffic in the evening as they came home from work.
One day, after watching all the cars drive by his house, the man felt a strong conviction to put a sign out by the road that said something about God.
He prayed about it for several days and told God, “If you want me to put a sign out by the road about You, I need You to provide a sheet of plywood and some paint.”
Later that week, as he was mowing the grass, he heard a thump as the mower went over the grass. He backed up to see what had made the sound and it was half a sheet of plywood. Now all he needed was some paint.
He picked up the plywood to put it in the basement of the new rental home. This was the first time he went to the basement and as he walked down the stairs, he noticed several shelves of paint.
Knowing this was a sign from God, he asked, “What message do you want me to write?” Immediately, the message that came to his mind was quite simple: “Jesus Loves You!”
So he painted the sign that night and put it out by the mailbox at the street. As he stood back to read it, he noticed that the letters were too small to read if cars drove by at the posted speed limit of 55mph.
He told God that the only way people are going to be able to read this sign is if they are driving by very slowly.”
The next morning, he woke up and there were about six inches of snow on the ground. Although there was no snow in the forecast, a surprise snowstorm had hit the area.
So he decided that every Sunday night he would repaint the sign and put a new message on it.
About six months after the first sign went up, he received a note on his car windshield in the church’s parking lot.
The note was from a man who attended the same church. He wrote about how six months ago his world was turned upside down. His wife left him and he lost his job all in the same week. He felt depressed and worthless. He decided he was going to end it all and take his life. As he left his house one morning, he told God that he did not want to live anymore and he blamed God for all his troubles. He did not believe God loved him. He prayed and said, “God, if you are real and if you love me and don’t want me to take my life, please give me a sign.”
As he drove down the road, he saw a sign that read, “Jesus Loves You.” He burst into tears. He prayed for a sign and he literally got a sign. He decided because of that sign he was not going to take his life.
As he was looking through the church directory one night, he saw that a couple from church lived near him. When he saw the address, he realized that this was the address of the house where he saw the sign.
As the man who placed the sign in his yard read the letter, he began to weep. He could not believe that his little sign was used in such a powerful way.
A sign from God turned his life around just as in today’s first reading from Kings. Elijah, who was considered the father of all prophets, came to a time of despair while he was deep in the desert telling God: “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life for I am no better than my fathers.” And he falls asleep exhausted from his failure in turning the Israelites away from following the gods of Baal.
The Baals were a mixture of gods: the god of power, the god of anger, the god of storms, and the god of fertility and sexuality. King Ahab fell under the trance of his wife from Tyre, Jezebel. And Jezebel brought in all the gods of Baal to destroy Yahweh among the Jewish people.
Jezebel sent an army after Elijah to kill him and therefore he had to run away to the desert.
When Elijah woke up, there was a meal for him given by an “angel” or a messenger of God.
After he ate the cake and drank the water, he fell asleep again.
When he awoke again, there was another cake that lasted forty days and forty nights, a symbolic number signifying the forty days that Jesus endured during Lent.
In the second reading today from Ephesians, Paul or one of his disciples instructs us about how to live a life in accordance with our faith in Jesus. We must abide by the Holy Spirit and live our lives by loving others as Jesus loves us.
In today’s Gospel from John, Jesus offers himself as the bread of life, the true nourishment of our salvation. But the Jewish people in the Gospel today murmured about him or complained about His claim of being the bread of life.
Have you ever heard the old saying: Familiarity breeds contempt”? Well, the Jewish people felt that they knew Jesus and His family and that He was the son of Joseph. They could not comprehend what Jesus meant when He said that He came down from heaven.
Jesus responds to their complaints by telling them that only those who are chosen by God will recognize Him as the One that God sent. Jesus then talks about His unity with the Father. Those who believe and partake of the bread of life will have eternal life since the bread of life is Jesus’ own flesh which is given for the life of the world.
Twenty-three times we find the “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John.
–I Am the Bread of life”
–I Am the Light of the world”
–I Am the Door of the sheep”
–I Am the Resurrection and the Life”
–I Am the Way, the Truth, the Life”
–I Am the True Vine”
In the Gospel of John, “I Am” is used by Jesus in three different ways:
First, it is used as a simple statement of identity. Second, it is followed by a predicate nominative. This is the most common of the statements, as in the preceding examples given. Third, it is used absolutely, as in the statement, “For if you do not believe that I Am, you will die in your sins” or “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I Am and that I do nothing on my own, but I say what the Father taught me.
The Old Testament offers the best background for understanding its use in the Gospel of John. In Exodus, when God reveals himself to Moses, the Greek Septuagint translates that Hebrew phrase as “I am the Existing One.” In the passages where Jesus uses “I Am” in an absolute form, He is identifying Himself with God.
At the Eucharist, we celebrate this gift of Jesus each time we gather for Mass. By receiving Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass, we are promised eternal life. This is the mystery of the Eucharist: to experience transcendence or something beyond the here and now and to be with God forever.