17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Francis)
We begin today the first of five Sundays where a series of Gospels taken from the sixth chapter of the Fourth Gospel interrupts the Year of Mark. John 6 consists of an account of the multiplication of the loaves (John 6:1-15), which forms the Gospel for today, followed by a long discourse from Jesus on the Bread of Life.
On this seventeenth Sunday of ordinary time we celebrate Christ the new Elisha who feeds us and makes us one spirit in himself. Today, our first reading and the gospel are quite similar. This is because both narrate the miracles of the multiplication of bread and, the feeding of the crowd. Also, both miracles were motivated by compassion and generosity.
In our first reading today, the prophet Elisha got a gift and noticed that the people were hungry. So, moved by compassion and generosity, he decided to feed them with what he received. The Lord saw his generous and compassionate heart and spoke though him: “They will eat and have left over.” Similarly, in our gospel today, moved by compassion for his flock, Jesus – “the new Elisha,” replicated the same miracle of Elisha. He fed more than five thousand people with just two loaves of bread and two fish. This shows that Jesus always cares for our well being by feeding us both with the good news, and with the Holy Eucharist. He cares both for our physical and spiritual needs.
There are three important lessons we must learn from these miracles. The first is the compassion of Elisha and Jesus towards their flock and community. Compassion always moves Jesus to do something great for his people. Compassion means, feeling and sharing both the pains and the joys of the other person. It is the basis of empathy and sympathy. Without it we cannot understand what others are going through. Without it, our community and family will collapse. We need compassion to understand what it means for others to be hungry, thirsty, sick, homeless, jobless, and lonely. The Second lesson is that God can transform something little into something great. So, rather than argue and doubt like the disciples of Elisha and Jesus, all we need to do is, obey God’s commands when he speaks through his genuine prophets. This is because our God is a God of impossibilities.
The third and very important lesson is the generosity of the small boy in Jesus’ miracle. He is a hero in this miracle. He offered what he had generously and it became the basis of a miracle for his community. How do we respond to the needs of our community and family especially, when there are not enough resources to carry on? This boy made a difference with the little he had. So, he changed the destiny of his community from a hungry people to a satisfied people. He exhibited the community spirit that Paul mentioned in our second reading. That is, when he reminded us of the virtues that we need in order to live and survive together as a body of Christ united by one faith, one baptism and one spirit. The virtues include: “Charity, compassion, generosity, humility, gentility and patience towards one another.”
Finally, we must be ready to offer the little we have. This is because it might be the source of a miracle for our community. That little offer might make a difference in the life of someone in your community. When compassion and generosity embraces, the result is usually a great miracle for the community united by one faith, one spirit and one baptism in Christ. There can be no miracles without compassion and generosity. To be compassionate is to be like Christ and, to be generous is to cooperate with Christ in his miracles and ministry. Today, Jesus is looking for those who are ready to offer just two fish and five loaves of bread in order to perform the miracle seriously needed in your family and community. That person might be you! If you do not hide what you have, you could be the next hero in the next miracle of Jesus for your community and family.
Peace be with you!!
Fr. A. Francis HGN