Fr. Francis Scaria
In chapter 19 of the First Book of Kings we read about how Prophet Elijah faced the hardest time of his life immediately after his biggest triumph. Warned by Queen Jezebel, he fled for his life and came to Beersheba and leaving his servant there he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat under a solitary broom tree. He had come to the end of all his strength and had given up all hope. He uttered a prayer to God in this hopelessness, “It is enough, now O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kgs19:4). But God had not given up. He sent his angel to feed him, feed not just once but twice, so that he may be strengthened. This food from God strengthened him not only physically, but more importantly spiritually and mentally too. The Word tells us: “He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God” (1 Kgs 19:8). The story that follows tells us that he had his rendezvous with God there.
These days, I was reading the Book of Genesis yet again. This time I was struck by the journey that Abraham undertook at the call of God. He left his country, his kindred and his father’s house and started his journey to the land that the Lord promised to give him. We have a portrayal of this in chapter 12. He journeyed on by stages. I was particularly struck by the fact that at every stage Abraham stopped to build an altar to the Lord and invoke His Name (cf. Gen 12:5-7, 8-9; 13:3-4, 18). In chapter 14 we find this divine experience entering a higher plane. When Abraham was returning after defeating Chedoralaomer and the kings who were with him, King Melchizedek of Salem, the priest of God Most High brought out bread and wine. Abraham received his blessing and gave him one tenth of all his possessions. We have a lot of explanation in the Letter to the Hebrews (cf. Heb 5:1-10; 7:1-2; 9:1-14) to show that this prince of peace was the prefiguration of Jesus Christ himself. With this, the sacrifices that were offered by Abraham on the way moved to a higher sphere. As we proceed to Chapter 15 we find Abraham and the Lord entering into a covenant and both partaking the covenantal sacrifice – a sacrifice on a still higher plane. Yet the climax came only in Chapter 22 when Abraham, at the command of the Lord, built an altar to the Lord on mount Moriah, laid the wood in order, bound his beloved son Isaac and laid him on the altar and reached out his hand and took the knife to sacrifice him.
Abraham seemed journeying on by stages to Mount Moriah. The sacrifices on the way strengthened him for the further strip of the journey to meet God. They also brought him before greater demands of the love of God.
The acts of the Apostles has a beautiful name for Christianity: the Way (cf. Acts 9.2; 18.25; 19:9; 19.23; 22:4; 24:14: 24.22). The Letter to the Hebrews presents the Church as a pilgrim people (cf. Heb 3:7-4:11; 2:5-18). We believers are on the way. The Eucharist gives us food for the way. Every Eucharistic celebration not only strengthens us, but also brings before us greater challenges and demands of the love of God who gives himself in it. The communion given to the dying is called very meaningfully called Viaticum, meaning food for the way. It is the food given for the final stage of our journey. Father, Give us everyday our daily bread!
MUSINGS : 1-25,