Today we hear how the prophet Elijah is at the end of his tether. He can’t cope anymore and wants to die but the angel of the Lord gives him food and drink to sustain him on his journey. I think of the many times I would choose this reading when giving communion to the sick. It is a favourite passage of mine.
Elijah is the last remaining prophet who stood up against Jezebel. He did what God asked of him. He confronted the priests of Baal and now he was fleeing for his life. Although he had done all that God had asked of him things were not going well for him. The queen wanted him dead. He had escaped into the desert, lay down under a furze bush and wished he were dead. “Take my life.” He was disheartened and fed up. He was ready to give up.
When things go well for us we thank God and count these good times as blessings. How do we cope when things aren’t going well for us? How do we deal with things when we are in a desert? How do we cope when there is sickness, when we are out of work, when there is discord in family life? When things are not going well we need to remember that God is at our side. He has not abandoned us.
“The angel touched Elijah and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked round, and there at his head was a freshly baked scone, and a jar of ice-cold water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. But the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, or the journey will be too long for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank, and strengthened by that food he walked for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.”
This is the sustenance he needed to continue his journey and at the end of his journey he had a wonderful encounter with God. It is easy for us, like Elijah, to be tempted to profound discouragement. We need nourishment at these moments that we cannot provide for ourselves.
There is great nourishment to be had in the celebration of Mass. Jesus is our food. Our nourishment is God’s word that is proclaimed to us and the body and blood of Jesus that we receive in communion.
Lord I thank you for nourishing me when I have reached my limits and when I experience failure. May the nourishment of your word and sacrament keep me faithful to your ways and sustain me to respond joyfully to your call.