First Reading: 1 Kings 19:4-8
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. 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.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. Glorify the LORD with me, Let us together extol his name. I sought the LORD, and he answered me And delivered me from all my fears. Look to him that you may be radiant with joy. And your faces may not blush with shame. When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard, And from all his distress he saved him. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. Taste and see how good the LORD is; blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:30—5:2
Brothers and sisters: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
Gospel: John 6:41-51
The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven, ” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
It was a year ago tomorrow. I had just returned from a conference. Stepping out of my car to see my husband and babies after three days away, he greeted me with tears streaming down his face, clutched me in his arms, and told me there was terrible news. My cousin, a 17-year-old beauty in every way, had taken her life.
I went numb. Why? She had so much going for her, came from an incredible, loving family, and had a personality that few could rival. She was a daily dose of truth and comic relief when you needed it most. She was making tough choices in a time of life when every aspect can seem unbearable. She loved God. Entering her senior year, with a world of possibilities ahead . . . she just couldn’t do it.
I don’t know why. No one does. And, even if I did, the pain wouldn’t go away. Something, deep down, was more than she could bear. And, as she cried out for Him, maybe she couldn’t feel His arms enveloping her in His love whispering that everything would be all right. Maybe, unlike Elijah, her clouded vision prevented her from seeing a guardian angel promising to pull her through the muck of her current state.
For whatever reason, she is gone. As I daily pray for her soul, and hope she is sitting near Jesus now in the unimaginable beauty of Heaven, I cannot help but wish there was something I could have done.
What if I would have asked her to stay a bit longer in that last visit we had just four days before? What if I had pried to get past the common answer of “fine” when I asked how she was doing? What if anything I could have done would have changed the course of her life on that fateful Sunday afternoon?
I would have done it. But it’s too late.
Yet, it’s not too late to reach out to another. As Christ instructs us . . . be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you . . . .
For those around us whose inner struggles seem too much to bear, let’s remind them of the hope in Him in any way we can. Maybe God is trying to send us to them at that moment as a messenger to “get up and eat” lest the journey be too hard.
Let’s not miss the opportunity.
And if you find yourself in that place, remember Elijah, and more importantly how God answered him. He is the answer to our cry for help…even if it’s a whisper so faint we question if we heard anything.
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Is there something in your life you cannot seem to bear? Cry out for help, and let God help you through those around you.
Britt Fisk is the wife of Jeremy and mother of four young kids. She spends her days living simply in the-middle-of-nowhere-New Mexico helping with the family beef cattle operation. You can find out more about her here.