We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Every one of us has had that “Elijah moment,” like the one we encounter in today’s first reading. We find ourselves in the desert. Exhausted. Weary. Hungry. Spent.
And all we want to say is, “This is enough, Lord.” Maybe we don’t want to end it all — but we want it all to end.
We just can’t take any more.
Maybe it was a really had a bad day at work — or a really bad week. Maybe the kids have frayed your nerves. Or maybe the heat has gotten to be too much. Maybe there are too many bills unpaid, too many deadlines unmet, too many sleepless nights of worry and wonder.
After the last 18 months or so, maybe we’re all just tired of what life has become — with the masks and the restrictions and the tests and the anxiety and the cable news reports that offer different advice every hour and the politicians and doctors who can’t stop arguing with each other.
Maybe the world has too many questions and not enough answers.
At times like these, the desert of life seems like it will never end. You just want to find a broom tree and take a long nap.
This is enough, Lord.
We’ve all felt like Elijah, when things seem too bleak and the landscape — like our soul — feels dry and parched
What can we do?
The prophet Elijah found himself literally “touched by an angel.” An angel provided the prophet with food for the journey — enough to travel 40 days and nights, in spite of his exhaustion.
But this week, the Gospel assures us that we have something even better.
To all who want to say, “This is enough, Lord, make it stop,” Jesus offers this message of hope to a weary, starving world:
“I am the bread of life.”
We will be fed.
Or as the psalm puts it: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”
As we do every three years, we have paused in the cycle of readings from Mark’s Gospel to hear from John, and his beautiful “bread of life” discourse. It began three weeks ago, with the astonishing miracle of the loaves and fishes and the account of how thousands who were hungry were fed.
But that was just the beginning. Jesus has had more to say. “Do not work for food that perishes,” Jesus said last week. “but for the food that endures for eternal life.”
Christ gives us the food that endures. He provides.
We are reminded again and again: we will be fed.
When we despair, he gives us hope. When we are weary, he gives us strength. When we hunger for mercy or love, he feeds us.
And not just today. But always.
He offers more than just bread for the journey, a meal to feed a hungry crowd.
He is the bread of life. He even offers us his flesh “for the life of the world.”
I couldn’t help but think of the prayer that is said at every Benediction, before the consecrated host: “Father in heaven…our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Fulfill this longing through Jesus, the Bread of Life, who alone satisfies the hungers of the human family.”
When we want to say, “This is enough, Lord,” the Lord gives us what we need to go on.
The other day I heard the story of 27-year-old Molly Seidel.
Molly Seidel grew up in Wisconsin, where she developed a talent for track and field at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Nashotah. She became known as the girl on the team who wasn’t shy about making the sign of the cross before running a race. She decided to go to Notre Dame for college — in part because she liked the idea of being able to go to Mass with her classmates on a Sunday night.
Over the years, she won her share of difficult races. Once she even suffered a stress fracture during a race — but went on to win it anyway.
She also raced against opponents she couldn’t even see. Depression. Anxiety. An eating disorder. Just last year, it all became too much. She considered giving up running altogether — but instead, she decided to do something she’d never tried before.
She ran her first marathon.
The rest is history.
Just yesterday, Molly Seidel made history, winning a bronze medal at the Olympics, the first American to win a medal in a marathon since 2004. It was only her third marathon, ever.
The story of Molly Seidel is one of perseverance and resilience.
But it also reminds us: the journey is as important as the destination.
She put it beautifully last year in a way that I think the prophet Elijah would appreciate. “Today,” she said, “I would not be the runner I am without my struggles. I would not be the person I am without my struggles.”
In an interview with a Catholic newspaper several years ago, she gave credit to her coaches, her family — and her faith. Her mother, she said, made sure she got to Mass every week. “My grandmother was super-religious,” she said. “I think a lot of it comes from that.”
Life is like that. It’s a marathon. The journey is long. But God very often gives us what we need to finish the race, even when we want to give up or give in.
He places angels in our life, and bread for the journey.
Do we recognize it? As we prepare to receive the Eucharist this Sunday, the very Bread of Life, may we open our hearts to God’s grace in our lives — grace that reassures us, comforts us, strengthens us, feeds us.
May we “taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” beginning with this Eucharist.
When we feel like saying “This is enough, Lord,” let us turn to him in confidence and in hope, knowing that what he gives us is more than enough.
In Christ, in the Eucharistic feast, in his very presence, here is bread to sustain us, that will never go stale, and never run out.
Here is the bread for living.
Here is the Bread of Life.