Lectionary Year B


Musings on the Lectionary Readings

for Proper 14 - Ordinary 19 Sunday

(paired to the Gospel)

Aug. 10, 2003

by Philip W. Gilman                                                                                                                                                                       


1Ki. 19: 4--8


Elijah said to Ahab, AGo up, eat and drink, for there is a rumbling of [approaching] rain@ (18: 41, sic).  The angel of the LORD came a second time and touched [Elijah] and said, AArise and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.@ (7)  The nutrition-- arguably of a more lavish sort-- provided sustenance for Ahab to ride in his chariot back to Jezreel.  The nutrition-- bread and water (6)-- provided sustenance for Elijah to walk forty days and forty nights as far as the mountain of God at Horeb. (8c)


Does the difference derive from the food?  The king would have had a goodly provision brought along with his retinue; he was well able to afford the very best for himself.  Elijah, on the other hand, had nothing of his own.  Perhaps this text has more to say about the supplier than the supply.


Psalm 34: 1--8 [2--9, TNK]

·        I turned to the LORD, and [God] answered me;

                [YHWH] saved me from all my terrors. [5]

[Elijah] came to a broom bush and sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. AEnough!@ he cried. ANow, O LORD, take my lifeA (1Ki. 19: 4b,c).

·        Here was a lowly man who called,

                and the LORD listened,

                and delivered him from all his troubles. [7]

Today's snippet from Elijah's saga is a (proof?)text for the Psalm's declaration.  Could it possibly be that the Psalmist's words are true?  That utter trust and dependence on YHWH is rewarded?

·        The angel of the LORD camps around those who fear [God]

                and rescues them. [8]

There is, you note, a condition attached.  Remember Ahab: he had provided well for himself, and arrived safely-- and dry-- at Jezreel, and lived to tell about his adventures.  But it was Elijah to whom The angel of the LORD brought provision.

·        Taste and see how good the LORD is;

even when it is only plain bread and bland water*;

·        happy the [person] who takes refuge in [God]! [9]

Elijah was not happy in our sense of the word.  We are happy to get a present, or to attend a party, meet an old acquaintance or hear a good joke.  Or, like Ahab, to get in out of the rain.  Elijah, more likely, was content.  And perhaps that is more satisfying in the long run than some moments of happiness.  Again, the lesson seems to point not to the effect, but to the source.

John 6: [32--33], 41—51 [suggested]

·        “Jesus answered them: In all truth I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, it is [the LORD] who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; for the bread of God is the bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.> (32-33)

They were saying, Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know.  How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven?” (42)


Throughout this chapter, we find Jesus pointing behind (or above) Himself, to heaven, God: the source.  The crowd (24) of Jews (41), being very human, had trouble seeing more than the provision.  The Church is largely similar, seeing (for example) the bread and the cup, and fighting over the substance thereof while ignoring the truly significant aspect: the One Who Provides.


·        In all truth I tell you, everyone who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate manna in the desert and they are dead; but this is the bread which comes down from heaven, so that a person may eat it and not die. (47-50)


Eph. 4: 25 - 5: 2

·        In all truth I tell you, everyone who believes has eternal life.

So from now on, there must be no more lies.  Speak the truth to one another, since we are all parts of one another.> (25)

·        Be generous to one another, sympathetic, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.  As God=s dear children, then, take [Jesus] as your pattern, and follow Christ by loving as he loved you (4: 32 - 5: 2a), and He will lead you to God, the source of life.  >In all truth I tell you, everyone who believes has eternal life.>


*  Water, not wine.  Do not confuse this text with the eucharist.