Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - "Hanging In!"
"God help me" is a common enough phrase used by people when the going gets tough. Today's readings present God as the ultimate source of strength and motivation for people.

1 Kings 19:4-8: Elijah, ready to hand in the towel and admit defeat, was encouraged to eat the sustaining, God-given food, pick himself up, and get on with his mission.

Ephesians 4:30, 5:2: Paul reminds the Ephesians that being Christ's disciples is not easy; human relationships can only be maintained by constant effort and by drawing on the example provided by Christ. He who eats the bread of life is expected to be able to forgive.

John 6:41-51: The "Jews" in the gospel story represent not only the historical Israelite people, but all people who hear the words of Jesus, become excited by them and then, murmur against them in scepticism, suspicion and unbelief. Either we believe and we stop complaining against God and Jesus, or we do not believe!

Point 1: There is a saying that "if God had not created man, man would have created God". It is a way of saying that the human being is not complete in itself. When push comes to shove, the inevitable question is "Is this all there is to life?" When it comes to the issues of dying, of eternal life or eternal death, of the struggle between good and evil, hatred and love, then do we find how inadequate purely human solutions are. Revolution may be exciting for a time, but it is not sufficient to support human aspirations indefinitely, particularly as we begin to grow old, weary and discouraged.

Point 2:  There are many, of course, who find no satisfaction in religious solutions. For some, the bad example they see in those who profess religious principles is a turn-off; or they simply regard the issues as imponderable and put them on the 'back-burner'. The intellectuals and political leaders who argue that the explanation and cure for society's problems can be found within people themselves, frequently come up with solutions that are simply horrendous. Such solutions frequently demand the destruction of the individual either by making him a slave or, in extreme cases, taking his life! Many examples drawn from living memory show this - the pogroms against the Jews; the 'final solution' of the Nazis; the collectivisation of the kulaks in Russia, followed by the purges of the intelligentsia under totalitarian rule.

Conclusion: The Christian attitude is that the whole truth about human life involves the physical and the spiritual, the development of body and soul. Christianity is different from other religions where the person looks for God. In Christianity, God searches for the individual person. As a religion, Christianity is much more than going to Church, performing the approved rituals, sending in our cheques and being involved in the activities of the church organisation. Through Christ, we seek to deal with the issues of eternal life or eternal death, of good and evil, of love versus hatred, of knowing that despite the heartache, despite the frustration, despite the difficulties in life, we have the Divine Assurance that this is not all there is to be. As G.K. Chesterton commented, "I know of no one who, on his death bed, regretted having being a practical Christian". The presence of God is a sustaining force, and we have that in the Bread of Life permanently available to us in the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament.

Scriptural reference: "Let me firmly assure you, he who believes has eternal life" (John 6:20)