First reading, 1 Kings 19:4-8 explained: King Ahab of Israel married a pagan queen, Jezebel, who imported pagan worship into Israel. The prophet Elijah challenged 450 of the pagan god Baal’s prophets, defeated them in a public sacrifice-contest and killed all of them. The furious Queen Jezebel sent soldiers to kill the prophet.
Today’s first reading expresses Elijah’s discouragement and frustration as he fled for his life. Collapsed in the only available shade, Elijah fell into a sleep of exhaustion while awaiting release through a speedy death. God heard His prophet’s prayer and sent an angel to feed him and strengthen him in his flight.
The miraculous food provided by God sustained him through a 40-day pilgrimage to Horeb (Mount Sinai), where Elijah would be commissioned again as God’s prophet to carry on the struggle and to anoint his successor.
Like Elijah, all of us learn to recognize our weakness and frailty and are able to experience God’s empowering grace which is capable of transforming our powerlessness and discouragement. The lectionary compares God’s strengthening of his prophet by the miraculously provided food with His strengthening of us in our pilgrimage to Heaven by the Bread from Heaven, namely, the Holy Eucharist.
Submitted by Fr. Joseph Dovari