Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Summer time it is a good season, plenty of colors and smells: seashore, mountains, hill country, etc. in our second reading for today, taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, we heard that Jesus handed himself over for us so we could become a fragrant aroma for God[1].

What this exactly means? Well, my brother, my sister, first and foremost means that as a Christians, as a Catholics we are called to be an aroma for Christ, [I mean], we are called to fill the world with His fragrance. Remember how in the gospel of John when Mary of Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus with costly perfume, the house was filled with its fragrance[2]. That is what we are called to do for the world, especially with all those more close to us.

We cannot be so blind to ignore that people around us still long for the fragrance of Christ, so we have been given a great commission and a great responsibility. Essentially, we have been called to fill the world with the sweet fragrance that emerges from the Body of Christ.

The perfume will overcome the stink no matter how decomposed the stink might be. That is why we cannot give up filling the world with His fragrance.

Yes, we will be tempted to give up as Elijah was tempted to do in today’s first reading. He had enough of the pagan world. He was fleeing into the desert away from the terrible Queen Jezebel, and now Elijah was out of food and water. More than that, he just didn’t have the spiritual energy to continue to do God’s work. He lay down under that broom tree, and he said to God, “Look, I just can’t do this anymore. I’m no better than anyone who has come before me. I just can’t continue your mission to Israel. I can’t do this myself”. But the angel of the Lord woke Elijah and gave him food and water. Elijah fell asleep again, and again the angel of the Lord woke Elijah and told him to eat and drink.

And, the reading concludes with the nourishment the Lord provided, Elijah walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, the Horeb[3].

The world needed the aroma of the Lord Elijah was called to provide. Elijah was correct: He could not do God’s work alone. But he was not alone.

My brother, my sister, like Elijah in the desert, there are times that all of us feel so spiritually drained that we wonder whether or not we have the strength to accept and continue the particular mission the Lord has for us. We are all tempted to let the stink overpower the perfume. It takes a tremendous amount of strength and determination to be a good husband or good wife. It is easy to quit, jumping into selfishness. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to be a good parent. It is easy to stop fighting the kids and leave them to their own devices. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to be a good single. It is easy to join the group that parties on Friday night and wakes up in God knows where on Saturday morning. It is easy to find ways to drink. It is easy to find ways to experiment with drugs or with sex, all to fit in with a crowd that, in fact, belongs nowhere…

All of us are tempted to give up. All of us often feel drained, like Elijah in the desert. But the Lord stops us from jumping into oblivion. He gives us the ability to complete the work of the Kingdom.

The world does not have to stink. It can be filled with perfume. It is up to us to be a fragrance for Christ.

The opening prayer for today gives us great clues to do that,

Almighty and ever-living God,
-we said at the beginning of the mass-
your Spirit made us your children,
confident to call you Father.
Increase your Spirit within us
and bring us to our promised inheritance.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Let us invoke to the God the Father and ask for his help and grace to fill our society, our parish, our family with the sweet fragrance that emerges from the Body of Christ ■

[1] Sunday 9th August, 2009, 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. 1 Kings 19:4-8. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord—Ps 33(34):2-9. Ephesians 4:30-5:2. John 6:41-51. [St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross]
[2] 12:3
[3] Mount Sinai (Arabic: طور سيناء , Hebrew: הר סיני), also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gebel Musa, Jabal Musa ("Moses' Mountain") by the Bedouin, is the name of a mountain in Saint Katherine city, in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. Islamic culture suggests an alternative name to Mount Sinai, that being Koh-e-Toor or al-Toor (Mountain of Toor).
Ilustration: Ferdinand Bol, Elijah Fed by an Angel (1660-63), Oil on canvas, 135 x 153, Private collection.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris