O JESU, VITA MEA ES TU!


[BREAKING THE BREAD OF GOD’S WORD]
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
August 9, 2015

O JESU VITA MEA ES TU!

Elijah was then a potential picture of you and me. You and me and that guy who looks so happy and fulfilled, and seemingly wanting for nothing in his or her life, could very well be what Elijah then was – a forlorn, tired, and disappointed prophet who went to the desert wishing for no other thing, but death.

Elijah was a discouraged man. The task of prophecy hung heavy on his shoulders, and no one seemed to bother to listen to him.

Allow me to be a bit cheesy today, if being cheesy is what this means to people now … Back in the day, one of our favorite songs in seminary went like this:

O Jesu vita mea es Tu, sine te est mors: (O Jesus, you are my life; without you means death)
Tu viaticum es, sine Te labor: (You are sustenance; without you only labor)
Tu laetitia es, sine Te dolor: (You are our joy, without you only pain)
Quies mea es tu, sine Te pugna o Jesu. (You are rest, without you only struggle)

The air we breathe is heavy, not just with smog, but with all sorts of human concerns. The so-called “big one” continues to terrify us. The threat of terrorists still worries millions all over the world, whose lives are in danger every day. The effects of climate change (no matter what position one might have about it) seem to take center stage everywhere in the world these days.

But above everything else, the moral compass that used to guide people’s actions and behavior seemed to have vanished in thin air and libertinism, in the name of personal freedom and free choice, has taken its place.

We prophets are often weary of standing by the truth and preaching the same truth in season and out of season. Most days, we feel that our message is too much counter cultural, too much out of kilter with what the majority of peoples believe.

I am discouraged. And like Elijah, there are times I want to give up.

But days such as today, and the past three Sundays where the image of a provident God with food for everyone come as solid reminders that hopelessness and helplessness are not what divinely revealed Scriptures call us to.

Today, you and I are reminded once again that not all is lost yet. You and I are told to let go of “all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling.”

Yes, dear friend and fellow prophet. There is hope. And there is concrete help from above. As in the case of Elijah, food was provided. And when he ate, “strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.”

As a priest since 1982, I am doing my more than fair share of “sweat, care and cumber; sorrows passing number.” I don’t claim perfection in all I do, but I can lay claim to one thing … I try my best each time. I do my part and play my role. And when I take certain stands, not all are pleased … not all agree … and some do take to active anger focused on the messenger, not the message.

The Lord Himself was not immune to such. “The Jews murmured about Jesus,” we are told. People focused on the bread, but not on the message. People looked for freebies and stopped short of what could give them total inner freedom. People missed the forest for a few trees. The Lord Himself was probably weary at times, which explains why he had to go up the mountain or to the desert or to an out-of-the-way place to pray and commune with His Father.

We now have the possibility to commune with God, in and through the gift of Bread – the ultimate gift of Himself in the Eucharist.

Join me in the feast. Join me as I gather strength for the journey that is life in this world. Join me fully, actively and consciously in this Eucharistic celebration.

O Jesus, my life, without you means death.
O Jesus. My sustenance, without you there is only toil.
O Jesus, my joy, without you there is only pain.
O Jesus, my rest, without you there is only struggle.



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