Cycle (B) 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 1 King 19:4-8; Eph 4:30 - 5:2; Jn 6:41-51

 In history we find many famous people who made certain predictions which were proved wrong shortly after that. Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, said about  rockets: "To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth – all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances." New York Times, wrote in 1936.  "A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere." Now even the little children know the names of people who break records in space travel.

Simon Newcomb remarked, "Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical (sic) and insignificant, if not utterly impossible." The Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk 18 months later.

Why did such error happen? Because they were not able to think beyond.

In today's Gospel we meet a group of people who were unable to think beyond. So they judged things by human values and by external standards. There is a beautiful story in the Mahabharata.

One day, while the Paanddavas were in exile, the wind brought a beautiful flower and dropped in near Draupadi. She was delighted with its sweet fragrance and divine beauty. She asked Bhima to bring her more lotuses.

Bhima went in search of lotuses. As he was walking through the forest, he saw an old monkey sleeping in his path. He made sound to scare it away. But it did not move. Bhima ordered the monkey to give him way. The monkey said, "I am too old and week to move. Push my tail aside to make way for yourself." Bhima tried very hard to move its tail but failed. He understood that the monkey was some great being. The monkey came to his real form. The monkey advised Bhima that he should be careful in making judgments.

We see many examples in the Bible where people commit great mistakes by basing their judgments on human values and external standards. Samson's strength was under judged by the enemies. Goliath judged David by human standards and failed to God's hand in him. Queen of Sheba did not understand the divine providence that Solomon enjoyed.

St John in today’s reading clearly states that Jesus listeners did the same mistake. They judged things by human values and by external standards. Their reaction in face of the claim of Jesus that “I am the bread that came down from heaven" was to affirm the fact, that he was a poor man from Nazareth. He was the son of a carpenter. He grew up in their midst. So they were unable to see beyond. They were unable to accept the special messenger from God.

It often happens in our lives too. God sends various people with a specific message for us. But in our pride, self-esteem and spiritual blindness we fail to see God's hand; and judge things by human standards.

T. E. Lawrence was a close personal friend of Thomas Hardy, the poet. When Lawrence was serving as an air craft man in the Royal Air Force he used to visit Hardy inn his uniform. One day his visit coincided with the visit of the Mayoress of Dorchestor. She was very annoyed and remarked in French that in all her life she did not have to sit down with a common aircraft man for tea. Everyone was shocked.  It was a great insult to Lawrence. But Lawrence replied very politely, in French: I beg your pardon, Madame, but can I be of any use as an interpreter, since Mrs Hardy knows no French. The snobbish woman had made a shattering mistake, as she had judged by externals.

Jesus read the thoughts of his listeners who were judging him by human standards; and warned them that nobody could come to him unless sent by the Father. We must be very careful that we should not fall prey to this common mistake. We should never neglect a message from God.  All of God's messengers were called from among ordinary men, farmers, shepherds and ordinary people. His greatest message was given through a Galilean carpenter.

God's message implies love on God's part and a humble and repentant heart on the part of man. The Jews lost this message as they were exceedingly eager to argue with one another. Let us not miss this message of in little trifles.  May God help us to see things as they are.