Jesus_The_Good_Shepherd_Byzantine_IconMy brothers and sisters in Christ,
The second reading today is from the Letter to the Ephesians and tells us: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. The letter then gives a list of negative ways of responding to life and a list of positive virtues for us to
cultivate. All of this is sort of standard Christian advice. It could be good advice for anyone, whether Christian or not. It paints a picture of how to be a good human being.

The first reading today is a wonderful contrast to this part of the Letter to the Ephesians. Elijah has just slain all the
prophets of Baal, a false god, and now is running away from the fury of Jezebel, the notorious wife of Ahab, the king of northern Israel. Ahab was weak and Jezebel strong. Elijah knows that he is in trouble! And he despairs of living and asks God to take his life. God does not respond that way, but helps Elijah keep walking!

The contrast between these two readings is wonderful! It helps us understand that although Ephesians makes Christian life sound very easy: just don’t do bad things and instead do virtuous acts, the reality is often much closer to that of Elijah, who tries to do right and suffers intensely for trying.

This does not negate the advice of Ephesians, but makes it real for us. If we are going to follow the Lord Jesus, we must learn how to struggle to do the good, how to suffer in order to be faithful to God and how to keep on praying even when it looks like God has abandoned us!
The Gospel of John now puts this in the context of the Eucharist.
We remember that this Gospel has no account of Jesus instituting the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Instead, the Eucharistic teaching is almost all in this chapter of the Gospel. This chapter proclaims over and over for those who have ears that Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God, Jesus is sent to us, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures.
Many of those who listen to Jesus cannot accept His words. They see in Him only the human person that they
have known since His childhood. They see in Him someone who could not be anyone special. Their ears, eyes and hearts are closed. Jesus is frustrated with them just as Elijah was frustrated with the prophets of Baal and with Jezebel.
For us: how are we living today? Do we walk with the Lord Jesus or with the prophets of Baal? Do we accept the struggle and the sufferings to give our life to the Lord? Do we call on the Lord even when we are in trouble?

Father Jesus