Did you ever feel like giviing up? Or, it’s all too much, how did I get myself into this mess? The prophet Elijah did! He is considered THE great prophet and in today’s first reading, we see him in a very bad state. He is fleeing from trouble and r unning away. All seems hopeless. After a day’s walking, he sits down under a bush and begs God to take his life. Have you ever been in such a dark place?
Life can sometimes get us down, such as when we are grieving a loss, when we are hurt or let down by a friend, or when illness strikes, or when we are simply exhausted. At these times it is helpful to stop and try to refuel for the journey. We can call on a friend to support or advise us. We can share a burden and work out a way forward. Notice that Elijah was visited by an angel who offered him comfort and support and the strength to carry on. There are such ‘angels’ in our lives whom we need to seek out in times of difficulty. It is this situation that we need to realise that Jesus us an ‘angel’ and friend too. He can sustain us in Word and Sacrament. “I am the bread of life – I am the vine that can give you life … I am the Good Shepherd …” Here Jesus can support us in so many different ways.
Notice in the Gospel today, how many people are complaining about Jesus because he has said, “I am the bread of life.” He has just fed them in body and spirit by the feeding of the multitude and speaking with them at great length. They are still moaning in spite of all he has done, because they know him as Son of Mary and Joseph … how could he possibly have anything to offer them?
At another level, people are still seeking food today. In spite of all our riches, so many are starving. Food insecurity and starvation is real for so many in war-torn regions, crop failure, migration, etc. Some statistics: 134 million people in 51 countries require urgent humanitarian action. Hunger and starvation kill about 9 million people every year, more than malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis combined. 5 to 6 million children die every year from malnutrition and related diseases. 65 million people have been forced from their homes, including 22.5 million refugees (what sad figures!)
Today’s Gospel is about food. Jesus says that anyone who eats of this bread will live for ever. So this Gospel is clearly a challenge in our world that is experiencing famine, starvation, conflicts, displacements and a global warming climate of devastating consequences. Pope Francis reminded us of this in 2015, six years ago in his Encyclical, ‘Laudato Si.’
This is a very grim picture I’ve presented, but it is for real! It is in this context we can see the importance of COP26, that meeting of the Heads of States in Glasgow this coming November.
This weekend in London, there are those who are walking on a pilgrimate to demonstrate the urgency of the situation. Those young people set out weeks ago from the West Country and will be walking from London, Oxford, Birmingham on to Glasgow. I’m hoping to join in some of the activities arranged here in London over this weekend. Information can be found on https://www.yccn.uk/london
Have a good week! Fr Joe