Lectionary Reflections: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [b] August 9, 2015

Engaging Faith | Mon, Aug 3, 2015

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

August 9, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern


1 Kings 19:4-8

Ephesians 4:30-5:2

John 6:41-51



August 6: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima in 1945 

August 9: United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 

August 9: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Nagasaki in 1945

August 14: Feast of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

August 15: Feast of the Assumption of Mary



The Church's social doctrine illuminates with an unchanging light the new problems that are constantly emerging. 

-Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 12

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.

-Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes

May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes, and war in international ones.

-John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 23

No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war. Just as the time as finally come when in individual States a system of private vendetta and reprisal has given way to the rule of law, so too a similar step forward is now urgently needed in the international community.

-John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 52

Testimony to Christ's charity, through works of justice, peace and development, is part and parcel of evangelization, because Jesus Christ, who loves us, is concerned with the whole person. 

-Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 15

All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling

must be removed from you, along with all malice.

And be kind to one another, compassionate,

forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

-Ephesians 4:31-32

Amid so many problems, even grave, may we not lose our hope in the infinite mercy of God. 

-Pope Francis @Pontifex Apr 30, 2015


Thoughts for your consideration

Have hope!  The Christian vision has something to offer to our world in these challenging and difficult times.  

In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “…we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present.”  In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “As the absolutely gratuitous gift of God, hope bursts into our lives as something not due to us, something that transcends every law of justice.”

We must be realistic about the challenges that our world faces. In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis wrote,  “We need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. Still, we can see signs that things are now reaching a breaking point, due to the rapid pace of change and degradation; these are evident in large-scale natural disasters as well as social and even financial crises, for the world’s problems cannot be analyzed or explained in isolation. …. “If we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God’s expectations”.” (#61)

In his exhortation Evangelli Gaudium Pope Francis adds: “Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigor!” (#109)

Pope Francis goes on to say: “An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters…. All Christians, their pastors included, are called to show concern for the building of a better world. This is essential, for the Church’s social thought is primarily positive: it offers proposals, it works for change and in this sense it constantly points to the hope born of the loving heart of Jesus Christ” (#183).

Each of the scriptures today can be applied to our challenging efforts to live out the social teachings of our faith in our contemporary world, as we struggle for economic justice, world peace, and the common good.  Each of the scriptures calls us to have hope in the midst of the challenges and to be unafraid of getting into action.

Elijah has been following the commandments of God and speaking up for what is right and now he is in trouble.  King Jezebel wants to kill him.  Elijah seems to be overwhelmed, tired and discouraged. He wants to die.  In some way, his situation is analogous to that of so many women and men who struggle to work for justice and peace in the world and encounter “failure” or opposition.  In some way, his situation is analogous to that of so many people who are overwhelmed by underemployment or unemployment or by the deteriorating condition of our environment. In the midst of complex social problems that are hard to “fix,” we can feel overwhelmed and get discouraged. We may be criticized. In speaking up for what is right, we can encounter opposition, threats and even death.  War, poverty, and injustice, seem at times to be so persistent and “unfixable.”  Even the leaderships of the church can frustrate us.

However, in the letter to the Ephesians, we are reminded that, “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.”  Both the first reading and the gospel, talk about divine “bread” and nourishment for the journey. Elijah gets a hearth cake and a jug of water and then is able to complete the journey to the mountain of God. Jesus promises to be the “living bread” which is “for the life of the world.”  God wants to strengthen us for the journey.

In order to be faithful and to put our faith into practice, we need to be supported by our God.  We need the support and challenge of a community of believers. In the Christian tradition this is made real in the celebration of the Eucharist – where we receive the “bread of life.”  When the church is at her best, her social ministry flows out from the Eucharist, for as Jesus says, “… the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  We are not alone as we strive to put our faith into action in the pursuit of justice.

Have hope!  The Christian vision has something to offer to our world in these challenging and difficult times.  


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • What social problems get you discouraged?
  • When do you want to walk away like Elijah?
  • What issues and situations seem to be overwhelming to you?


  • Are you ever discouraged by our political system and our political leaders?
  • What hope do you receive from the scriptures?



Reflect on one of the versions of St. Francis of Assisi’s story on perfect joy:

(See especially the third chapter of Leonardo Boff’s 

St. Francis, A Model for Human Liberation).


“Crazy Facts”


  • “At any given time, an estimated 21 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery. Men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers both in their own countries and abroad. Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Slavery, in both its ancient and modern forms, is not only shameful, it is as the abolitionist John Wesley said “the execrable sum of all villanies,” and has no place in our world.”
  • 70% of those caught up in human trafficking are women or girls.



Actions – Links

International Justice Mission

The International Justice Mission is a “global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world.”  Find out more at   

Freedom Commons

“IJM’s advocacy action hub, The Freedom Commons, helps you gather with others and take action to pass anti-slavery legislation in the U.S.” Visit the Freedom Commons at:


Prayers of Intercession

Response:  Bread of Life, strength us for the journey

God of the hungry, teach us how to share our bread with the hungry of the world.

God of peace, teach us how to work for peace in our divided, often violent, world.

God of the poor and rich, teach us to share with one another 

   out of our riches and our poverty.

God of creation, inspire us to work together for the common good of creation.

God of justice, teach us to create policies, institutions and governments 

   that are just for all.

God of inclusion, teach us to welcome and include all our sisters and brothers.

God of unity, teach us to work and live together as a church united and supportive 

   of one another. 

God of joy, teach us to have faith and serenity in the midst of questions and confusion.

God of hope, teach us to overcome all discouragement with your gift of hope.


Prayer - Meditation

From the Urbi et Orbi Message of Pope John Paul II, Easter Sunday, 23 April 2000

The Risen Christ signals the paths of hope 

along which we can advance together 

towards a world more just and mutually supportive, 

in which the blind egoism of the few 

will not prevail over the cries of pain of the many, 

reducing entire peoples 

to conditions of degrading misery. 

May the message of life proclaimed by the angel 

near the stone rolled back from the tomb 

overturn the hardness of our hearts; 

may it lead to removing unjustified barriers 

and promote a fruitful exchange between peoples and cultures. 

May the image of the new person, 

shining on the face of Christ, 

cause everyone to acknowledge 

the inalienable value of human life; 

may it encourage effective responses 

to the increasingly felt demand 

for justice and equal opportunity 

in all areas of society; 

may it impel individuals and States 

to full respect for the essential and authentic rights 

rooted in the very nature of the human person.



How the world would look if it were measured by its wealth, 2015. 

Notice the size of Africa!

Map of Energy Poverty