It’s hard being Catholic. My fidelity to Christ’s message is severely tested every single day. The worst isn’t when others (implicitly) tell me I’m a crazy, out-of-touch psycho who needs to get a clue; the worst is that I sometimes find myself wondering the very same thing in the privacy of my own room.

Living in New Zealand that proudly wears its liberal views doesn’t help things. Neither does working in the entertainment industry, which throws itself into the arms of fraudulent hedonism. The two combined is like a vicious force multiplier against the call to holiness.

I’m guessing I’m not the only Catholic in the western world that feels that way. Sometimes you just want to give up, cave in, and collapse on the spot you’ve found yourself in. I mean, look: fame, money, fortune, women. It doesn’t sound too bad, so why do I want to suffer for something so strange? Without hard proof? It’s tiring. It’s a lost cause.

Apparently Elijah felt that way too. You see, Elijah was ready to give up on his pilgrimage to Horeb, the Holy Mountain of God.

“I have had enough. Take my life; I am
no better than my ancestors.”

But God had prepared for Elijah food and drink, and asked him to eat it. Elijah ate some and drank some, then went back to sleeping. God asked him a second time to eat and drink, so that he would have energy. Skeptical, Elijah finished it all. He was able to complete his journey. Previous to the Temple of Solomon, Horeb, also known as Mt. Sinai, was probably the holiest Jewish site (burning bush, Tablets of Stone, Ark of the Covenant), and thus the closest the faithful had gotten to God.

In John’s Gospel, Christ reveals the central mystery of the Catholic faith: the Holy Eucharist. The Jews thought Jesus at this point was crazy. He was commanding them to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. He talked about being sent from Heaven, and yet everyone knew he was the carpenter’s boy.

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.”

It’s an absolutely bizarre concept to conventional wisdom. It’s outrageous to the pigheaded (as the Jews were at this point). But what did Elijah’s tale teach us? We should probably take God’s word in faith. He means to bring us closer to Him.

What’s a university student, construction worker, engineer, or accountant to do if he/she wants to live the Christian faith? Quite simply, to partake in The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (read: Mass), including receiving Holy Communion. It is the cornerstone of our faith, and its most important Sacrament.

If there are still any unsure Elijahs out there, try out this simple trick: beam a wide, bright smile. Do it without being happy. Now give us your worst frown. Do it without being angry. Now smile again. Frown again. Smile. Frown. Notice how your mood changed along with your action, when it’s usually the other way around?

Go to Mass, receive Communion. Have a little faith in the Lord, and let your actions influence your spirit.

As St. Paul says, “follow Christ by loving as he loved you, giving himself up for us as an offering and a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.”

1 Kings 19: 4-8, Ps 34:2-9, Eph 4:30–5:2, Jn 6:41-51

Title taken from Archbishop Gomez’s Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time.