Humanity is flawed by the sin of Adam. In the first reading for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, even the great prophet Elijah is grumbling and discouraged. He had just given witness to the one true God on Mount Carmel, and now Jezebel is hunting him down in the desert.
Angry with God and on the verge of despair, he says: "This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers."
What does the Lord think? I believe the Lord thinks to Himself: "Elijah, stop feeling sorry for yourself. I have a lot of work for you to do."
The readings for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time tell us much about who we are. We're a temporal body and an eternal soul. Therein lies the challenge: to which do we listen? The desires of the flesh or those of the spirit? Or both? Our body is passing away, and it cries out with fleshly desires in every way.
St. Paul expresses this conflict in Galatians 5: "For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want."
The readings for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time make it clear: God always provides an abundance of goodness for man's needs.
In the first reading, a man brings Elisha 20 barley loaves to feed 100 people, while expressing the discouraging thought, "How can I set this before 100 people?"
Elisha knows that God is a God of abundance and compassion. A true prophet, he speaks forth God's goodness, saying, "Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, 'They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'"
The Gospel for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time illustrates how Jesus is the good shepherd who knows how to lead His sheep to fresh water and green pastures. The apostles have just returned from a successful missionary journey and tell Jesus everything they had done and taught.
Jesus wants to find a quiet, restful place and help them process what just happened. Because of the popularity of Jesus' teaching, that place didn't stay quiet and restful for long; it became flooded with people hungering for what Jesus offered.
When I first got involved with Charismatic Renewal, or Renewal in the Holy Spirit, I was amazed to see the power of Jesus Christ operating through ordinary lay men and women. When they prayed over people, those people changed. The authority of Jesus Christ worked in and through them.
The Gospel for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time illustrates the simple fact that the more overwhelmed we are by life, the more ready we are to let God burst into our lives. In the Gospel, the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years and the father of the dying 12-year-old girl knew that they had exhausted all worldly help.