19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
JN 6:41-51
August 12, 2018

The table is turned…the dinner table, that is.

Among my earliest memories are the agonizing hours (at least it seemed like hours) spent sitting in front of a plate piled high (at least it seemed piled high) with things I hated! My mother had an entire litany of reasons why I couldn’t leave my chair until my plate was clean. You need it to grow! It’s full of vitamin C! It’s good for your bones! It cost a lot of money! Like all mothers, she was concerned that I be properly nourished. And in response, I “murmured.”

Now, I make a point of visiting “assisted living” at mealtime, concerned that she is being properly nourished. Failure to thrive in elderly persons (also referred to as faltering weight) is defined by The Institute of Medicine as weight loss of more than 5%, decreased appetite, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity, often associated with dehydration, depression, immune dysfunction, and low cholesterol. At 93, she is vulnerable and I am concerned. So, I sit there and coax her to “take one more bite of chicken…at least try the broccoli…don’t you want the pudding…it looks really good!” And in response, she “murmurs.”

Our First Reading this 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time tells the story of God providing nourishment to Elijah the Prophet so that he could withstand the 40-day journey to the mountain of God. But God did more than simply place the food within easy reach. Concerned that Elijah would fail to thrive…falter…be too weak to reach his destination, God sent an angel to encourage him. Get up and eat! I wonder if Elijah murmured, “I’m too tired!

While it is true that Our Heavenly Father, the perfect Good Parent, is concerned about our physical well-being, of infinitely greater concern is that we be properly spiritually nourished and that we flourish…thrive…be all that we were created to be. Continuing our reflection on the Bread of Life Discourse, we see God’s concern for our spiritual growth and development. In order that we not falter, like the first parents, and satisfy our hunger with poison fruit, God sent Jesus to be The Bread of Life and The Cup of our Salvation.

We are invited to The Table of The Word and The Communion Table, where we find waiting for us, in abundance, what we need to grow strong. And it takes enormous strength to make the journey through time and into eternity. The banquet set out for us at each Eucharist is what we need, not only to satisfy our hungry hearts, but to keep our spirits healthy. Eucharist is both food and medicine and while a total gift…free to us for the taking…the cost was the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

So, let’s encourage one another…especially those who mutter…those “too tired” to be here…GET UP AND EAT!

Be nourished! Thrive! Grow! Be healed and refreshed as you continue your journey towards the heavenly banquet!