Sunday August 8, 2021, 19th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

The tie between today’s readings: Heroes come in different ways.

Psalm 34: 2-9, I Kings 19: 4-8, Ephesians 4:30-5:2, John 6:41-51

   Heroes come in many ways: our brave military personnel, firefighters who rush into burning buildings, paramedics and doctors in the ER, and even the person who runs for coffee so that we could meet a looming deadline, or at least we tell them that. God is in the hero business and He is always looking for new talent. You don’t have to be super smart. You don’t have to have lion-like courage, although heroes are braver than they think. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t even have to be in shape to be a hero. No experience necessary. You get on the job training set down by the Master. In the Bible, God gives us a template to follow as He shows Himself as a rescuing hero, a healing hero, and a sacrificial hero.  All you need is the willingness to follow His lead and step up when you’re called…and there are so many calls.

     The most familiar way that we think about God is as the rescuing hero. King David, our psalmist today, rejoices when he remembers how God delivered him from a tough spot. David was in a lot of tough spots in his life, maybe that’s why there are so many Psalms. David not only recalls his own experiences, but points to many other times when God’s saved the day for His people. God is there for the little guy when we cry out to Him, or for an entire nation facing destruction. He camps His angels around those who fear Him and rescues them. His power is unstoppable.  He always wins. But God is not all shock and awe. He has a softer side.

     God comes as the healing hero.  After a long career serving God, Elijah came off a great victory where he destroyed the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel. Now, he is on the run from Queen Jezebel, who has a contract out on him. Crushed with battle fatigue, Elijah sits under a tree and prays to die. God provides food for His clinically depressed servant and prepares him for the road ahead. God the healing hero knows our weaknesses and cares for us at our points of need.  He meets the believer with the promise that all things will work out for our good; giving strength and peace in the trial. He meets the unbeliever with an open hand and an invitation to be delivered from an even bigger crisis.

   Jesus in our gospel reading shows Himself as the sacrificial hero: “I came down from heaven and give My flesh for the life of the world.” The sacrificial hero is God’s greatest role. Greater than physical healing and more profound than rescuing a nation, God makes a way for a man to escape the horrors of his own destiny: death and hell forever. The hero Jesus dies on a cross and with His Resurrection once and for all conquers these greatest enemies of mankind. Now we have a future!  By destroying everyman’s curse; Jesus becomes everyman’s hero.  We only need the faith to cry out to Him for rescue from our sins. He will save us and with this salvation He gives us new lives as children of God.

     Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Eph 5:1) Your church life isn’t supposed to be a dead end routine of rituals. Christianity is an adventure of growth and transformation of your life into the likeness of Jesus. God has a plan for you. He wants you to become like His Son and get into the family business. Die to yourself, so that you may live for others and by this earn a hearing for the Gospel.  You have His power! You have His gifts! You have His purpose! Step up! The world needs heroes.

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