Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: 2 Kings 4:42-44; Ephesians 4: 1-6; John 6:1-15
A few talents and gifts to nourish a multitude! Five loaves and two fish feeding five thousand. This Sunday we celebrate Christ who nourishes both our physical and spiritual hunger. In the first reading the prophet Elisha prophesies the providential nourishment of God’s people, reminding them of what the Lord had said. “They will eat and have some left over”. God’s providential care for the whole creation is underlined in the Responsorial Psalm 145. “The eyes of all creatures look to you and you give them their food in due time”. The story of Elisha miraculously feeding a hundred people with only twenty loaves of bread foreshadows Christ who, in the Gospel this Sunday performs even a far greater miracle, feeding a crowd of five thousand with five loaves and two fish.
There is a great lesson we learn from the Gospel story of the little boy who gives away his lunch. 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 the immediate situation of human need is an important pastoral approach. He takes human need seriously. What does the story of the multiplication of loaves and fish mean in the context of our parish where we are currently focusing on ecclesial lay ministries? The story of the boy giving away his lunch may be compared to our smallest gifts, 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 on Sunday, some are cantors, others play the piano, we have catechists, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, lectors and ushers, to name just a few. The time you give for these ministries may look insignificant, but the Lord takes your small gift and multiplies it to nourish us all daily and on Sundays. Your free will donation in the collection basket is another example of your offering to the Lord. 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. We 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. What a blessing when we give our small gifts! 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 our 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. Offer them with joy to the Lord.
©2018 John S. Mbinda