THE BEST BREAD THERE IS: HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B). Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

Bread-of-Life (1)

Bread is one of the most common commodities in the world. It is thus relished and consumed in all the continents of the world. The Russians have their black (sweet) bread, in Italy they have the dry bread at every meal, and in France there is the brioche and Basque pumpkin bread. In Germany they have the white bread and pretzels. Challah is popular among the Jews, while the Mexican enjoy Pan de Muertos. Americans have varieties of the product and in Nigeria we have so many types of bread from the most affordable Agege bread to the highly priced wheat, cake, fruit, and white bread. It could actually be said that around the world, a day is incomplete without a piece of bread. Of course we know that one of the immediate causes of the French Revolution was that the peasants had no bread to eat. In the entire Bible, bread is mentioned about 450 times.

In the first reading of today (1 Kings 19:4-8), we are presented with the event following Elijah’s victory over the 450 prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Jezebel, the wicked wife of Ahab, tried to kill him and he fled. However he got tired and weak while being on the run. In his desperation and fatigue under a shade he declared: “it is too much, Lord. Take away my life; I might as well be dead!” However while he was asleep God sent an angel to wake him up and invite him for a meal of bread (cake) and water. This was repeated twice and thereafter he got the strength that enabled him to undertake forty days and forty nights journey to encounter God at Mount Horeb.

In the gospel reading today (John 6:41-51) our Lord Jesus Christ continued his interlocution with the Jews who were searching for him basically for the sake of bread. I believe that the bread he miraculously multiplied was so sweet and nourishing that the people ardently desired a repeat of that miracle. However they were to receive the shock of their lives. Jesus was ready to give them bread, but this time the living bread which came down from heaven, which is at the same time his flesh. The Jews were not ready to accept this kind of “cannibalism” and thus reminded him of his paternity and maternity which they were very familiar with and per adventure very ordinary to them. Jesus went on to reveal to them the connection which he shares with God the father and his readiness to give eternal life to all who comes to him.

He further established that he is the living bread that has come down from heaven. The living bread that is far more satiating and life-giving than the manna their ancestors ate in the desert and died thereafter. The living bread is his flesh and through it the world is given life.

From the episode connected with Elijah in the First Reading, we see ourselves as pilgrims in life on our way to God. In our lives, we often experience trials like Elijah. Sometimes we are even down and hopeless. Often we wish we were dead than living with challenges. Sometime we are being pursued by some “Jezebels” in various forms and shapes. We face a lot of “Jezebels” in our families, places of work, in our studies, in our relationships, in our businesses and sundry.

Jezebel here stands for challenges of life, it stands for obstacles and lacks in our lives. There are times we have “Jezebel” experiences that we believe that we cannot manage. In such situations, we should be confident on these: “God cares about us and He is ready to support us!” (Prov.3:5; Romans 8: 37-39; 1 Pet.5:7). God displayed His love for Elijah by providing bread for him which actually gave him the strength to walk the forty-day journey to encounter Him at Mount Horeb.

Drawing a relational line from the experience of Elijah to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ today, we see ourselves as privileged; perhaps more privileged than Elijah. Elijah ate bread and water and was able to reach Mount Horeb from the strength he got from the meal. In our own context, we are given the living bread, which is more powerful, more generative of eternal life than the bread Elijah took. We are also given the blood of Jesus Christ to drink which is thicker and more effectual than the water Elijah drank. Furthermore, Elijah was led by the strength from the bread and water to Mount Horeb, but the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is meant to lead us not to any physical location on earth, but to eternal life with God in heaven. In this sense Jesus Christ is really our “VIATICUM” (provision for the journey).

Our Lord made it clear to us that we can only have life from the living bread. Yes! Though we may have reasons to eat different kinds of bread available in different shops and supermarkets around us, there is this bread that is fundamentally very important for our well-being. Beyond taste, texture, hygiene, size, packaging is the living bread which came down from heaven. This is the body (and blood) of our Lord Jesus Christ, together with his soul and divinity that contains all that we need in life. If a small flash drive or chip can have gigabyte capacity of up to 8, 16, 32, 64, what more of the living bread which is Jesus Christ himself. Surely in our Lord Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist we are sure to get uncountable yottabytes of blessings!

As you approach the living bread today at the table of the Holy Eucharist, you only need to believe and you will be given all you need to walk through life and overcome all the raging “Jezebels”. As you approach the bread that came down from haven you need to anchor your hope on his power to translate your fatigue into favour, your shame into fame, and your challenges into chances. As Elijah surrendered himself to God when His human power failed him, you need to surrender yourself to the living bread today. He says in Matthew (11:28) come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Yes! The journey may not be an easy one. But when Jesus Christ is with us it becomes a joyful journey.

With J. W. Peterson we sing:

It’s Not An Easy Road

Verse 1

It’s not an easy road

We are trav’ling to heaven,

For many are the thorns on the way;

It’s not an easy road,

But the Savior is with us,

His presence gives us joy ev’ry day.

Chorus

No, no, it’s not an easy road,

No, no, it’s not an easy road;

But Jesus walks beside me

And brightens the journey,

And lightens ev’ry heavy load.

Verse 2

It’s not an easy road

There are trials and troubles

And many are the dangers we meet;

But Jesus guards and keeps

So that nothing can harm us,

And smooths the rugged path for our feet.

Chorus

No, no, it’s not an easy road,

No, no, it’s not an easy road;

But Jesus walks beside me

And brightens the journey,

And lightens ev’ry heavy load.

Verse 3

Tho’ I am often footsore

And weary from travel,

Tho’ I am often bowed down with care,

Well a better day is coming

When home in the glory

We’ll rest in perfect peace over there.

Chorus

No, no, it’s not an easy road,

No, no, it’s not an easy road;

But Jesus walks beside me

And brightens the journey,

And lightens ev’ry heavy load.

No, no, it’s not an easy road,

No, no, it’s not an easy road;

But Jesus walks beside me

And brightens the journey,

And lightens ev’ry heavy load.

Have glorious Sunday and a blessed week ahead

Fr. BONNIE

(fatherbonny@hotmail.com)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: