19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B by Fr. Isaac A. Mensah

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B by Fr. Isaac A. Mensah

First Reading: First Kings 19:4-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:30–5:2
Gospel: John 6:41-51

Theme: The Viaticum


As a young Mass server I used to accompany the priests who worked in my parish for visitation to the sick and communion to the sick and aged. It was in one of these runs I got to know the meaning of the word “viaticum”. Ordinarily the word refers to the Eucharist as given to a person near or in danger of death. However the word in its strictest sense means a supply of provisions or an official allowance of money for a journey. The readings of our liturgy today talk about the viaticum.

Explanation of the text

Life is a journey filled with lessons, hardships, heartaches, joys, celebrations and special moments that will ultimately lead us to our destination, our purpose in life. The road will not always be smooth; in fact, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges. Today in our first reading we encounter once a firebrand nay Maverick Prophet running away for his dear life. The same Elijah who defeated, Ahab, Jezebel and their entire prophets of Baal is now terrified and discouraged. The same Elijah who shut the heavens for three and half years and later brought down fire and rain is now dejected and disappointed because it seems God has abandoned him.

Such is life, many a time we come to the wits end of our journey as we seem so down because of certain happenings in our lives. Sometimes we feel like giving up on life. I have heard people in these moments contemplating on suicide and saying to themselves “I don’t think I can do this anymore”, “I feel like God doesn’t even listen to my prayers”. “I think enough is enough and I must end it all”. This is the lowest moments of man.

Just when Elijah thought that he has laboured in vain and has come to his wits end then God intervened in his situation. He was woken from sleep to get up and eat for the journey ahead will be long. God can’t abandon His own cf Isaiah 49:15. He cares and He provides food to sustain us in our journey of life.

It is this same food which Jesus professes to offer in our Gospel reading when he claims to be the bread from heaven. This statement from him didn’t go down well with his critics and detractors who questioned his originality. Jesus’ claim to be the bread of life leads to a further promise: all who come to him will not hunger and all who believe in him will not thirst. The mounting impression is that there will be a definitive nourishment that will forever satisfy the needs of all who believe in Jesus. Jesus is indeed that viaticum which does not only nourishes us in our journey of life but that which sustains us forever.

In the second reading, Paul reminds us that as children of God, we bear the mark of the Holy Spirit and thus it is instrutive to note that God can’t and won’t abandon us. All that we need to do is to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit just as Elijah did. We need to remember that every setback is a setup for a comeback. God hasn’t finished with you yet.



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