Homily: This is Enough, Lord!

August 10, 2015

Yesterday’s first reading was from 1 Kings 19:4-8

The following is a homily I delivered on this reading at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis in August 2012:

In today’s first reading, Elijah is tired.

We can feel his fatigue as we read: Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a tree and sat beneath it.

He said: “This is enough, Lord!”

Then he laid down and fell asleep. There is intensity in his tiredness. It goes far beyond the tired we feel after staying up too late to watch the Olympics.

If we go back several chapters in the Book of Kings, we see that Elijah’s fatigue was justified — years of having to survive drought and famine, hiding out in caves, caring for a widow and her son, bringing a child back from death, slaying 450 idolaters, and then once again fleeing for his life. Finally, he came upon this tree and collapsed beneath it.

He had relentlessly done everything God had asked of him with no time to rest. He was wiped out. He was done –– “This is enough, Lord!”

While I doubt that many of us can say we have endured all of the hardships that Elijah faced, we can understand his fatigue. We know what it feels like to be so overwhelmed with stuff, that we beg for it to stop — we want relief.

We want to say — “This is enough, Lord!” and lay down and just sleep.

It finally happened. We knew it was coming, although we prayed it wouldn’t. We were laid off from our jobs. Cut-backs had already taken away a portion of our income. It made living paycheck to paycheck impossible. Our savings is gone. Creditors continue to call. If we can’t pay the electric bill by Friday, service will be cut off – again. What will we tell our spouse? We have been assuring them that everything would be OK. We’re tired.

“This is enough, Lord!”

We struggle with addiction. We don’t know how it got ahold of our lives. When did we lose control? We have turned away from everyone who loved us. We have been in and out of rehab. Four days is as long as we have been able to stay clean. Then the whole ugly cycle starts all over again. We never wanted this for ourselves. We see no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re tired.

“This is enough, Lord!”

We spend years of our life caring for someone we love. Someone whose life is being drained by cancer or some other disease. Someone who was so alive now needs our help with the most basic skills – bathing, eating, dressing. We spend all our time caring for them. We get no relief and there is no time to care for ourselves. We’re tired.

“This is enough, Lord!”

Our kids are in pain and it drives a knife into our heart. Their marriage is in trouble or their child is sick or they have turned away from the Church. We feel their pain, but there is nothing we can do about it. We just lay in bed night after night worrying. We’re tired.

“This is enough, Lord!”

Maybe these are your stories. Or there are countless other scenarios that could be bringing you to this point of mental and physical and spiritual exhaustion. Chances are good that we can all think of at least one time in our lives when we were at our limit.

When Elijah reached that point, he knew he needed rest and food to renew himself. He slept in the shade of the tree and ate the food given to him by an angel of God. Just as God had watched over him and provided for him so many times before, here He was again giving Elijah rest and food.

Scripture tells us repeatedly that God is encouraging us to seek rest too:

  • Be still and know that I am God
  • My soul finds rest in God alone
  • Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while

Scripture also tells us repeatedly that God will provide all the nourishment we’ll ever need.

We hear it in today’s Gospel when Jesus says: I am the bread of life. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; Whoever eats this bread will live forever.

Just as it happened to Elijah, the world can sometimes close in on us and cause us to cry out – “This is enough, Lord!”

But it is worth noting the angel’s final message to Elijah: Once you have rested and eaten, you need to get back to doing the work of God. So it is for us: God calls us to rest and to eat — and then get back to doing His work.

It is often said that having a strong faith means knowing that God is there for you — even during the tough times. Perhaps we can take it a step further: Having a strong faith means knowing that God is there for you — especially during the tough times.

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