Homily for 17th Sunday in Ordinary time 2012, Year B
Our Gospel today is really a Good News for all of us for many reasons.
The first good news is that we are God’s priority. We remember last week’s gospel, Jesus was wanting to have time with his disciples alone after their first missionary experience, but due to the big crowd following them, whom Jesus felt like they are sheep without a shepherd, Jesus had to forgo his own needs and tended to the needs of the people. In our gospel today, we have Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand men and women and children out of few loaves and few fish.
The second good news for us today is that God’s goodness and grace is so abundant that there is always extra or leftovers even after we had our fill. We can hear this from the stories of people who are giving so much of what they have and never went broke. I don’t want to brag about myself, but I can attest to this. I give what I can, and God just compensates everything I gave away and sometimes even he doubles the compensation. Because God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The third good news from the gospel today is that we don’t have to be great or popular or rich for God to use us as his living instruments and signs of his love and care for us all. We don’t even have to have a name to be able to share what we have. The boy in our gospel today has no name. We can call him ‘barley lad’ maybe, or ‘fishy fellow’ but it doesn’t matter for Jesus. We may not remember who he is, but he will be always remembered by what he does. He gave up the little provision he had to Jesus and that made so much difference. It was able to feed thousands, and plenty of leftovers. The man in our First reading today has no name too, but his little gift of twenty barley loaves to Elisha, was able to feed a hundred men. If we focus more on our personal gain when we give, we can’t go without ringing TV crews or Media personalities to record everything we’ve done. But our gospel today reminds us that it is in and through our littleness or nothingness that God’s love and concern for us is more evident and more effective.
The fourth good news for us today is that Jesus did not just feed us once or twice or thrice, but always. We know this because we are taking his body and blood as our food and drink every time we celebrate the Eucharist. Yes, it is in the Eucharist that we realise Jesus always feeding us not only with his living Word but more so of his body and blood to nourish us and to sustain us as we journey towards eternal life. And the amazing thing is every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are witnessing a great miracle. We are partaking in the great sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. In the Eucharist we personally become part of the drama of our salvation. Through holy communion, we are receiving the real and living body and blood of our Saviour. This reality enables St John Vianney to say: ‘If we could comprehend all the good things contained in Holy Communion, nothing more would be wanting to content the heart of humankind. The miser or the miserable would run no more after his treasures, or the ambitious after glory; each would shake off the dust of the earth, leave the world, and fly away towards heaven,”
Such is the beauty of holy mass and holy communion that Padre Pio also exclaims: ‘The world could survive without the Sun but not without Holy Mass.’
So we must remember always in the Eucharist, we experience the utmost generosity of our God, in a real and personal way. I would also leave you with the words of St Francis de Sales:
“When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence.”
So, as we continue our Eucharistic celebration, let us thank the Lord for making us his priority and for giving us himself to be our food and drink. At the same time, let’s pray that we no longer lament on our being small, having very little, or being insignificant because in the eyes of God, everyone is someone. We can do this with Jesus and by listening to St Paul in our Second Reading today to live our lives according to the vocation that God is calling us to live. By doing this, we become good news to other people. Amen.