Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Readings: 2 Kg 4:42-44; Eph 4: 1-6; Jn 6:1-15

It is mind boggling to imagine a little boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish feeding five thousand! I recently read an interesting review of a book by David Bach. The book showing a relationship between giving and wealth concludes: “For nearly two decades of working as a financial coach for thousands of people, I've witnessed time and time again that those who give more become rich faster. I don't think it's a coincidence. Research shows definitely that people who give of their time and money to help others live longer, happier, and wealthier lives.” I share this with you because this Sunday the first reading and the Gospel are about the multiplication of loaves. While Elisha in the first reading miraculously feeds a hundred people with only twenty loaves of bread, Christ in the Gospel performs even a far greater miracle, by feeding a crowd of five thousand with five loaves and two fish.

In the Gospel of this Sunday, there is a relationship between the story of the little boy giving away his lunch and the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. That gift was so insignificant to God the creator of the universe, yet the Son of God takes it and multiplies to feed five thousand. One lesson that Jesus wants to teach us this Sunday is that material needs are relevant to the work of evangelisation. Jesus' own example of sensitivity to immediate human needs is an important pastoral approach. What does the story of the multiplication of loaves and fish mean in the context of stewardship as a way of life? The story of the boy giving away his lunch may be compared to our smallest of time, talents and treasure. We all have many small but beautiful gifts we can offer. Who in our parish cannot afford to offer a few minutes of prayer to God each day? Some possess talents for services like reading during Mass, some are cantors, others play the piano, we have catechists, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, lectors, greeters and ushers, to name just a few. The time you give for these ministries may look insignificant, but the Lord takes your small gifts and multiplies them to nourish us all daily and on Sundays. When the Lord takes your gift, He multiplies it to nourish our spiritual hunger in many ways. The prophecy of Elisha and the multiplication of loaves by Jesus is fulfilled right in our eyes daily and every Sunday. The little I give is multiplied so that all get enough and some left over! I would like to imagine that probably the little boy was given some of the left over to take home. St. Francis of Assisi once said that “it is in giving that we receive. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) We must never underestimate the gifts and talents that the Lord has given us. 2) Those gifts and talents including our time are meant to be shared with others in the parish community. 3) The Lord takes those small gifts and multiplies them to nourish us all in the parish. You are a gift to the parish; you have gifts to share; your gifts and treasure are precious to the parish. In gratitude to God offer your gifts with joy to the Lord.

©2015 John S. Mbinda

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