7th / 8th August 2021

posted 9 Aug 2021, 04:47 by Parish Office
Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (7 & 8/8/21)
 Faith leads to action! 
Today’s first reading is the middle section of a very dramatic part of the First Book of Kings. I recommend that you take your Mass sheet home and then, using the Bible reference, read what happens before and after in your Bible. But to give you a summary, and a bit of a spoiler, this is what it’s all about. 
King Ahab marries Queen Jezebel, and as a result they abandon following the Lord and go after the false god Baal. And Elijah the prophet is called by God to sort things out. 
So under God’s command, Elijah summons the people of Israel to Mount Carmel. He is the only prophet of God left – all the other ones have been put to death by order of the king and queen. And Elijah also invites the prophets of Baal – there are four hundred and fifty of them in the country. So he says to the people: this is what we are going to do. There will be two altars, one set up for The Lord, and the other for Baal. A sacrifice will be put on each one, and they will both be called on to set their sacrifice on fire. Whichever one answers with fire, that is the one to serve. 
So the prophets of Baal begin, and call on Baal from morning until midday. But there is no answer. They keep on calling until the evening, and there is no answer. Then Elijah rebuilds the altar of God, and gets the people to pour loads of water on the offering, to stop it from being able to burn. They pour on so much water that it flows over the offering and the altar and into the trench around the altar. Then Elijah calls on God, and God answers with fire from heaven, which burns up the offering, and dries up all the water in the trench. The people fall on their faces and say, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” And Elijah says: seize all the prophet of Baal. Don’t let one of them escape! 
So it seems all has gone well. But Queen Jezebel isn’t very impressed, and wants to kill Elijah. So he flees and runs away, and that is where today’s reading starts. Elijah thinks that he’s going to be put to death. He told the people that he was the only prophet of God left. And once he’s gone, then what? But that’s not going to happen. God tells him: get up and eat. He does so, twice, and with that food is able to walk forty days and forty nights until he reaches Horeb, the mountain of God. Faith leads to action. There God reveals His plans for the future: two new kings are going to be anointed, one for Israel and one for Aram, and a new prophet, Elisha, is to be chosen to succeed Elijah. The religion of God has a future, and God is going to make sure of it. Faith leads to action, but it needs to be the right faith – faith in God, not faith in Baal – a spiritual revolution.
I was talking last week about a spiritual revolution brought about by Christ, and that leads us to today’s Gospel reading. Jesus tells us today that we have to believe the right things, and put that faith into practice. He says: “to hear the teaching of the Father, and to learn from it, is to come to me.” In other words, we come to Him to hear the teaching of God the Father. And it’s no good just listening and then forgetting, or saying “that’s nice” and then ignoring it. We have to hear it, and learn from it. What does it mean, “to learn”? We had the example a few moments ago, with the two sacrifices on Mount Carmel. The people had been following the false god Baal. But when they saw that he didn’t respond, but God did, they learnt that The Lord was the true God, and He was the One to follow. There was now no turning back. Why go back to Baal, when you know that the Lord is the true God? 
Now for the next bit: the people learned, but Elijah was afraid and fled away, because Queen Jezebel now wanted to kill him. Elijah had been part of that great miracle on Mount Carmel, but evil had fought back, and he had lost a bit of hope. So God strengthens him once again, and with the food he gave him he was able to walk for over a month to where he needed to be. In the Gospel, Jesus moves on and develops what He is saying. After saying that we follow the true God by following Him, He begins to reveal the Eucharist. He is going to feed us with Himself: “and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world”. Just as God gave new hope to Elijah, and gave him food to sustain him for the next part of his mission, so today, Christ gives us Himself in the Eucharist, to sustain us for the next part of our mission in serving and following Him. We need to live that adventure to see where God is going to lead us. Faith leads to action. Faith brings us to Mass, and in the Mass we meet Christ and He deepens our faith. And then faith leads to action!