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Posted by on Aug 8, 2021

Food for the Journey

Food for the Journey

The prophet Elijah had a problem – her name was Jezebel, wife of King Ahab. Jezebel was not an Israelite and she worshiped gods other than the Lord. More seriously, she got her husband to offer sacrifices to her god, Baal, and she ordered that all the prophets of the Lord be killed. When Elijah demonstrated clearly that Baal was not really a god and did away with Baal’s prophets, Jezebel ordered his death. He fled into the desert and lay down under a tree, praying for death to come to him there.

It is at this point that we pick up Elijah’s story in today’s reading from the first book of Kings (1 Kings 19:4-8). Elijah begs the Lord for death. He’s had enough of being a prophet and always being in trouble, having to flee for his life again and again. He wants it all to end. But that isn’t what the Lord has in mind. Elijah is awakened by an angel who tells him to get up and eat. Obediently, he does so, then lies down again to sleep. But the angel of the Lord returns and again tells him to get up and eat more, the journey will be long. Elijah obeys once again. He eats the food provided and drinks what he has been given to drink. Then he gets up and begins to walk.

He walks for forty days and nights to Mt. Horeb, the mountain on which the Lord gave Moses the Law. There he meets the Lord and receives instructions regarding which men are to be anointed as the next kings and prophets. That story is for another Sunday. For today, the important thing for us to remember is that the Lord God provided food that would sustain Elijah for a very long journey.

Another Kind of Bread from Heaven

Jesus continues to deal with the question of bread from heaven in St. John’s account of the aftermath of the feeding of the five thousand men (Jn 6:41-51). People in the city knew Jesus and his family. He had grown up in a nearby town. How could he possibly presume to claim to have been sent from heaven?

Jesus doesn’t back down. He goes farther in his claim to authority, saying that the Father will draw people to him. Furthermore, Jesus himself has come from the Father, has seen (the word implies either spiritually or physically) the Father, and will give fullness of life (everlasting life) to those who believe what he says. Finally, he declares, “I am the bread of life.” This living bread comes from heaven and is to be given physically, in the flesh, for the life of the world. Jesus gives himself to gift eternal life to humanity.

This radical notion drew the first Christians together and shaped their identity. As St. Paul reminded one community (Eph 4:30-5:2), they were God’s beloved children because Christ loved all of us and gave himself as a sacrificial offering to the Father. As Christians they/we belong to God through our baptism and that fact is to show in our lives. We must leave behind anger, bitterness, shouting, and all other forms of hatred and malice. We are to be known for our kindness, compassion, and readiness to forgive each other. We who share the body of the Lord cannot, must not, fail to live in love. An important reminder in our day too.

Our loving Father has given us food for the journey of our lives. We don’t know where our lives as Christians will lead us. We don’t know who we will meet along the way. We don’t know who might be angry with us when we speak the truth of God’s love for all. We don’t know who might be hungering for a word of love or forgiveness or compassion.  What we do know is that we can hold on to the promise Jesus gives us. The bread he gives, the living bread that came down from heaven, brings life in all its fullness to those who receive it. Just as Elijah received food that took him to Mt. Horeb, we too receive food that will take us to meet our God in our world today.

See you at Eucharist.

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Posted by on Jun 16, 2015

CNEWA: Bringing Christ’s Love to the Poor

CNEWA: Bringing Christ’s Love to the Poor


The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) was founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926 to provide support for the Eastern Catholic Churches. The geographic area of service has expanded from its original focus on Greece and Eastern Europe to include the Middle East, North East Africa, and India as well.

CNEWA works with and through the Eastern Churches to share the love of Christ as needs for assistance are identified and solutions implemented by members of those churches themselves.

Money raised by CNEWA goes directly to the Holy Father for use in supporting educational programs, refugee assistance, and emergency relief services. Additionally, funds are used to support longer term programs for alleviation of poverty, affirmation of human dignity, construction of churches, schools, and clinics, and building bridges of communication among the many peoples and faiths in the areas served.

A papal agency for humanitarian and pastoral support, CNEWA is an arm of the Holy See in coordination with the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. In recognition of the original organizations  in New York state that were merged to create the association, CNEWA’s Board of Trustees is located in New York and the archbishop of New York is charged with overseeing its administration. The organization’s board includes bishops, archbishops, and cardinals from the United States and the hierarchies of other countries that have national branches of CNEWA. The trustees meet annually.

The CNEWA website includes information about current events and needs in the areas served, including an overview of the many ancient Christian churches still present: Assyrian, Oriental Orthodox, Orthodox, and Catholic Eastern Churches.

The association offers an educational magazine, One, that is available in digital format or via tax deductible annual subscription for a print version.

To help CNEWA meet the needs of our sisters and brothers in faith, especially during these times of upheaval and persecution in the Middle East, please visit their website.

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Posted by on Jan 7, 2009

CNEWA: Bringing Christ’s Love to the Poor

Merry Christmas to our Orthodox Sisters and Brothers – January 7

Celebrating Orthodox Christmas - Photo by Muhammed Muheisen, AP

Celebrating Orthodox Christmas - Photo by Muhammed Muheisen, AP

January 7 is the Feast of Christmas in much of the Orthodox world. We don’t hear much about it in our Western cultures, in part because it is not the big commercial event that it has become in North America and Europe. Nevertheless, it is a time for celebration and remembering that we share the roots of our faith with these ancient communities as well.

For more information about Orthodox history and beliefs, as well as why our calendars don’t match, there’s a good explanation on the BBC’s website. The quick answer is that most Orthodox communities still follow the Julian calendar for certain feasts. That calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, so Christmas falls on January 7. 

Western Christians who’d like to celebrate in solidarity with Orthodox Christians might want to try a dish typical of Christmas celebrations in the Eastern Church. Some interesting ones can be found at:

So, as the festival arrives, we wish you a Blessed Christmas, with time for family and friends to gather and enjoy the gift of love. We also pray for peace – in our entire world, and especially in those areas torn by war. May the coming of the Prince of Peace bring hope and courage to all of us, to work together and make it real in our day.

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Posted by on Mar 31, 2008

CNEWA: Bringing Christ’s Love to the Poor

Easter Communion or Condemnation?


To receive communion during the Easter season has been a long established precept of the Catholic Church. It is a practice that we should examine more closely. To receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist requires one to be in the state of grace – free of serious or mortal sin. We are advised – wisely – to put our souls in order. We are to turn away from sin and return to the community through the grace of absolution. There must be peace and love in our hearts and a definite change in our lives.

Fr. Burke, a Discalced Carmelite from Australia, expands on the notion of communion in terms of our living out the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in our shared lives as Catholics and Christians. In his article, “St. Teresa and Two Spiritualities in the Church Today,” at, Fr. Burke explains St. Teresa of Avila’s views on legalism as opposed to true and complete union with God and each other. It is well worth reading.

Fr. Burke has put into words what I have been feeling ever since I read selections from the popular blog, Cafeteria Closed, by Gerald Naus, who writes as Gerald Augustinus. Naus came to the United States from Austria in 1997. A former Jehovah Witness, he became a Catholic in 2005. His views are decidedly Restorationist. Unfortunately, they are generally stated in tones of arrogance, condescension, or condemnation. His posts on culture, politics, and religion are inflammatory and provocative, akin to those of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, except that Catholicism is now the justification for neo-fascism. Naus’s recent post, On the Status of Palestinian Education, uses photos and a few inflammatory lines to libel all young Palestinian men. One might argue that many of Naus’s views are Catholic in the officially regressive sense, but there seems to be little of Christian charity or communion about them. From this narrow point of view anyone who does not agree with him is wrong and should be attacked. As a major blogger, Naus has a large following in which to sow his seeds of dissension.

You will know them by their fruits. (Mt 7:20)

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Posted by on Jan 22, 2008

CNEWA: Bringing Christ’s Love to the Poor

Getting Robbed for Christian Unity – Sam Clear, Pilgrim


Thanks to a comment from Ed, I learned about Sam Clear’s pilgrimage around the world from Australia for Christian Unity.

Sam’s dangerous mishap in Costa Rica appears to be a tale from long ago, except that it’s all too modern. Here is an excerpt.

May 13, 2007

Aussie Pilgrim Mugged in Highway Robbery

At 2pm today Samuel Clear, a 28 year old Australian walking the globe to promote the unity of Christians, was attacked at knife point and robbed by a band of 4 thieves in Costa Rica. Sam was walking and praying with friend, Damian Burgur, and a Costa Rican World Youth Day Group, when they were set upon by the four assailants.

The robbers thrust long-blade knives at the group of 11, threatening them as they lined them up along the railing of the bridge as heavy traffic flowed past. The thieves then stripped the Christian prayer group of everything valuable, including 4 backpacks, cameras, mobile phones, wallets, watches and sunglasses.

Within minutes around 10 police vehicles took chase and opened fire on the robbers as they tried to escape off the end of the bridge and down through a canyon. 3 were successful, but the fourth, was apprehended and is now facing court in Costa Rica. Sam, Damian and the group were shaken and stunned by the surprise attack, but amazingly not injured.

Despite having a knife thrust at his stomach and losing around $2,000 worth of gear, Sam had this to say, after he met the young thief, who had been apprehended.

“He was just 16 years old. He was incredibly ashamed & very quiet as he stood there looking at the floor. We introduced ourselves & I explained why we had been walking.

I gave him a World Youth Day postcard/invitation & Damian popped some rosary beads into his hand. He looked up, smiled & said thankyou, before tentatively extending his hand. We each shook hands & he once again bowed his head & returned to his cell.

Two hours later I saw him entering the court house still holding his postcard and beads – the kid wasn’t the ring leader. “His name is Danny if you’d like to offer a few prayers for him,” said Sam.


The article goes on to tell about Sam, his pilgrimage for Christian Unity, and his dream of a “24 hour a day worldwide prayer session in the name of Christian unity.” You can get the whole story at walk4one.

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