Saturday, August 08, 2015

Eat and Live

By Beth DeCristofaro
He prayed for death saying: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” … 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!”  He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. (1 Kings 19:4, 7-8)

Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves.  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. … I am the living bread that 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.”  (John 6:43-54, 51)

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.  (Mother Theresa of Calcutta)

I recently set a Windows screensaver on my computer that is a marvelous landscape, probably from Arches National Park, Utah.  The view is from under one of the soaring arches of deep red sandstone looking over a dry terrain of pinnacles, mesas, hills in smoky corals, bronzes, and shadowy blues, lit by a brilliant sun in a bright sapphire sky.  This photo spoke to me not only because it is so beautiful but because it reminded me that when my life feels most desert-dry, that I can always remember and hope for the potential hidden within the aridity.  If I look beyond the desiccation and remember the Lord traveling with the Israelites, I might begin to notice tiny spots of life.  I might see a green weed sprouting from a crevice, a lizard scurrying under a rock, a hawk cruising the up drafts and even a point of darker sand signaling a miniscule stream. Life abounds in this good earth God gave us.  Hope wells up even in times of despair.

In today’s reading Elijah was hiding from Queen Jezebel who threatened his life.  Elijah prayed for death.  God did take his life but not in death.  Instead, God provided him with food and water, nourishing him so much he managed to walk 40 days further into the desert, no less!   Jesus, divine Son, was discounted and threatened by unbelievers but he knew that not only did His nourishment come from God but that He is nourishment for all sacred life.  Elijah accepted God’s food, water and will.  Jesus is God’s food, water and will.   We accept, we even cling to in moments of anguish, and we too can walk further in the desert with life flowing in our spirits.  Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane showed us the vast desolation of his desert journey but also his deep well of faith immersed in God’s infinite mercy and will.

Elijah’s prayer “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers” is powerful and relevant.  In desert times Elijah received strength from the Lord but an answer he did not expect.  Speak with God as did Elijah.   Might someone who annoys me be in the desert, unable to see beyond the barrenness?  See her/him with eyes of faith and prayer.  Is the desert, frightening and lonely, a place of growing more deeply in our relationship with God as Mother Theresa never stopped hoping in her long life?

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