Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
1st Reading: 1 Kings 19:4-8 Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-9
2nd Reading: Ephesians 4:30–5:2 Gospel: John 6:41-51
Get up and eat! (1 Kings 19:5)
Elijah was downcast. Queen Jezebel had just ordered his death. Just a few days earlier, Elijah had found himself in a moment of jubilation. He had just “outdueled” four hundred prophets of the false god Baal.
In a matter of days, Elijah went from complete jubilation to complete depression. He went from fearless confidence in God to fearing for his life. He went from feeling like a special messenger of God to feeling like a fruitless and worthless vine. It was so bad that Elijah even asked God to take his life.
In this dire moment, God sent some food and an angel to help Elijah. The angel told him, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you” (1 Kings 19:7).
Like Elijah, we all have moments of jubilation and moments of discouragement. We may be in prison, we may be dealing with difficulties at work or at home, we may have lost our confidence and feel like a failure. These moments of hardship can sap the life right out of us.
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus telling people that he is the Bread of Life “that came down from heaven” (John 6:51). Even greater than the food that God provided for Elijah, Jesus offers us living bread, his own flesh. He offers us his own life in the Eucharist so that we don’t ever have to lose hope. As we take and eat, Jesus can minister to our fearful and broken hearts. Even the simple act of eating this Bread can help us feel better.
The Eucharist inspires us to hold on to our faith, even when we are downcast. It reminds us that Jesus was completely human, like us in every way except sin. He was tempted just like us. He suffered like us. So he knows firsthand what it’s like to be troubled.
So take and eat today, knowing that Jesus is with you through even your most troubling times. He will give you his energy for the long haul.
“Lord, you are the Bread of Life.”
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion:
1. The first reading describes what happened when the prophet Elijah received a threat to kill him by Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, king of Israel — after he had called upon the Lord to defeat 450 prophets of Baal and end the long drought in Israel. Here is Elijah’s response: 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. God responded to Elijah’s grumbling in this way: 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!”
- Elijah was obviously a prophet anointed by God. Why do you think he responded in such a poor way to the threat from Jezebel? Why do you think God overlooked his grumbling and provided food and rest to him?
- Have you ever been in a situations where, like Elijah, you were worn out or overwhelmed by your circumstances?
- What was your response? What was God’s response?
2. The Responsorial Psalm describes what can happen when we turn to the Lord in faith during difficult times: 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.
- How would you contrast these words from the psalm with Elijah’s words from the first reading?
- How have you used prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments to be set free from fears, shame, and distress?
- When you sought the Lord in prayer, what were the ways in which the Lord answered, delivered, and saved you?
3. The second reading from Ephesians opens with these words: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. It continues with these words: 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.
- What do the opening words of the reading mean to you?
- What specific steps can you take to help heal some broken relationships in your life that may have been caused by bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling? What role can these words from the reading play in this healing: be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ?
4. In the Gospel reading, Jesus proclaims these astonishing words: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him up on the last day.
- What do these words mean to you?
- How can you use these words as a prayer to your heavenly Father to draw those in your family (and others) to the Lord — especially those who are far from him?
5. The Gospel reading ends with these words of Jesus: I am the living bread 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.
- We know that these words are a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. In what ways are these words also a foreshadowing of the Cross?
- Every Sunday in the Eucharist the Lord Jesus will offer himself, “body and blood, soul and divinity” to us. We know that Jesus our Lord wants to draw near to us as our food, our rest, our strength, our healer, our deliverer, and our promise of eternal life! What steps can you take at Mass to make this more of a reality in your life?
6. The meditation is a reflection on the first reading and the Gospel reading, and their relationship to one another. It includes these words: “Even greater than the food that God provided for Elijah, Jesus offers us living bread, his own flesh. He offers us his own life in the Eucharist so that we don’t ever have to lose hope. As we take and eat, Jesus can minister to our fearful and broken hearts. Even the simple act of eating this Bread can help us feel better. The Eucharist inspires us to hold on to our faith, even when we are downcast… So take and eat today, knowing that Jesus is with you through even your most troubling times. He will give you his energy for the long haul.”
- How can you make these words from the meditation a greater reality in your life?
Take some time now to pray for a greater openness to receiving Jesus, the Bread of Life, in a deeper way each time you receive him in the Eucharist. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.