From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
August 8 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
‘This is hard!!’ How many of us have had that sentiment at one point or another in our lives? It is the theme of the week. In the first reading the prophet Elijah has been fighting for the Lord. He has done everything right and his reward is more suffering. He lies down, tired of the fight – just wanting it to end – and ready to accept death! But God is not done with him. He draws nearer to him, ministering to him in his need, and preparing him for the journey to come. God does not desert him in his time of greatest despair, but walks with him leading him out of his darkness into the light of God’s all-encompassing presence.
In our gospel, we hear this same complaint from those following Jesus when he presents himself as the true bread of life – the Real Presence. ‘This is hard!’, they say, and many walk away. How many of us have mumbled a similar sentiment through our words or actions? How many of us have looked at the Eucharist as optional – something we do or don’t do – rather than as life sustaining and the very person of God pouring himself into us? To accept this requires acceptance that Jesus is God, and that in the Real Presence we receive God and all he offers us. That includes the entirety of our faith, with the fullness of the truth of Christ. It includes the crosses that each of us encounters in life. It includes the mercy, compassion and love of God himself. And it includes the promise of eternal salvation. Each of us is called to great things through God, but only by complete trust and faith can we come to realize the full potential of his presence in our lives. God sends his angels to each of us when we are tired, disheartened and feeling defeated and ministers to us. He gives us his own Son as our nourishment to move forward, refreshing us with the hope of his salvation. He enters into our suffering that we might walk forward with trust and confidence.
As Vincentians, we each are challenged with suffering, despair and doubts – both our own and those of our neighbors we minister to. I am sure we have each had times – especially in the last eighteen months – when we have said “this is hard!! It is enough Lord!” We may have wanted to lay down or walk away, feeling defeated and without answers. God says “do not be afraid!”, and sends us angels (sometimes in the form of friends) to minister to us, to walk with us and to provide us with nourishment we need. In the Eucharist, he gives us himself, that we may have all that we need to carry forward in trust and truth. We become the ‘angels’ sent to minister to our neighbors. He calls us to become his presence in the lives of others, until they fully embrace and recognize his face. But we can only achieve our full potential by remaining in his truth and sustained presence in us through the Eucharist. How do I embrace the truth of the Real Presence in my life? How do I honor and carry forward that presence in my ministry to others? How do I move from “This is too hard!”, to “I love you Lord! Do with me as you will!”?
Lord Jesus, I love you Lord! Do with me as you will! Come to me Lord. Grant me understanding and acceptance that I may fully embrace the bread you offer me. Nourish me with your body and blood. Lift me from my fears. Minister to me that I may minister to others in your name. Let me never stray from the Eucharist, so that I may always live in your truth. I love you Lord! Do with me as you will! I ask this in your name! Amen