Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B
Fr. Steven Roth

Living a vocation in life is very difficult. Now I know you are expecting a long homily on the woes of priesthood. While priesthood certainly has its struggles, I’d like to focus on the other noble vocations in life that deserve our admiration. Parents sacrifice so much each day. Many of you as parents work so hard to make sure your children get educated, develop good morals, do their homework and on and on. So often you put your needs after the needs of your children. Grandparents, you might have it even a bit harder. Not only do you care for your children, but now you have the added worry of your grandchildren.

The vocation as a married couple certainly has its burdens too. Spouses care for one another in illness. They are patient when the other spouse just isn’t his/herself because of a job. So often as spouses you work diligently to love each other even if it means working through some tough stuff.

The single life has its shares of difficulties too. Whether it is loneliness or the dilemma of who to marry or how you want to make a difference in the world. This is no easy path as well.

These vocations can be exhausting and can bring us to our knees like Elijah. Yet, brothers and sisters, our relating to the story of Elijah is not just to commiserate on the difficulty of life, but instead to be assured of hope because of where we are. We find ourselves beneath a tree, not a broom tree like Elijah.

We find hope because we find strength, nourishment and help because we reflect on this story beneath a tree, the Tree of Life. Underneath this Tree, on which we see our crucified Lord, we soon will find and experience the nourishment the Lord offers to us for our journey. Not a hearth cake and water, but beneath the Tree of Life we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus. This passage offers us incredible hope. Life is indeed difficult and there is no point in pretending otherwise. But we are not alone on this journey called life. God walks with us on this journey not placing obstacles in our way to make this journey harder. He does not stand back and watch to see what we will do. Instead like the experience of Elijah, God is there with us to help. God sends to us not just an angel pointing us to hearth cake and water. Rather God directs us to the food for the journey, the Eucharist. We gather here, more often than not, exhausted from the week and yet God invites us to this privileged place beneath a tree. Not the broom tree, but beneath the Tree of Life where we receive the necessary strength we need to continue on our journey.

How incredible it is to be here and to be nourished. But how good it is that we gather here together. What a wonderful witness and reminder this is to each one of us that as we soon will walk up one by one to receive the Eucharist, we do so because we are hungry people. We eat the Body and Blood of Jesus because we need strength. It is not a parade of honor and glory, but a moment in which each one of us recognizes we cannot continue on our own, but need the nourishment our loving God freely gives us.

But with any journey, we always need to remember where we are going. Elijah, we are told, was on his way to Mt Horeb. Ironically this mountain was formerly called Mt. Sinai, the place in which Moses received the Ten Commandments and the place where later Elijah would receive direction as well. We too journey in life to be closer to God and better understand what He wants us to do.

So let’s eat of this Eucharistic banquet because we need it. This week we continue our journey called life and we will need all the help we can get. Whatever our vocation in life is, may we know we are never alone.

St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church