Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” We can look at this question in two ways. On the one hand, on the part of Phillip, the Apostle, it was one of exasperation and great worry. Phillip was looking at the question of Jesus on the world’s point of view of supply and demand: “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” On the other hand, Jesus “said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.” Jesus would give the people food for their spirit and for their bodies to sustain them in their search for the truth, because, “he was teaching them with authority” and “because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.”
On our part, we tend to worry so much and feel exasperated with the increasing needs of our families, with unpleasant relationships and with the poor condition of society. Jesus is leading us to realize that trust in Him is the key to our faith and hope in Him. But we always have the tendency to multiply our temporal needs, and lose sight of the more important things in life:
- We fill our refrigerators with food, but can’t share with the needy;
- We build wider roads, but fail to make roads toward peace and total human development;
- We multiply fast food chains, but poorly feed the hungry of the world;
- We multiply highways in the sky, and remain in the skies of indifference and selfishness;
- We produce tremendous amount of disposable appliances, and also make lots of trash;
- We multiply diplomatic relations, but fail to curb the nations’ greed;
- We multiply books and magazines, but fail to read the Bible;
- We multiply pain killers, but fail to alleviate the pain of people’s conditions and reduce indifference to the plight of the poor;
- We multiply the number of cars to have the ease of movement, but fail to multiply ways to move toward the hearts of people;
- We produce a good number of fans and air conditioners, but fail to cool down the anger of the abused and oppressed; and many more.
In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul teaches us the following:
- “…. to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (cf. 4:1-6). Jesus multiplied the five barley loaves and two fish for the people to eat and to reach their hearts, for they were seeking life.
We are urged to multiply the blessings and virtues that we have: a) humility and gentleness – to remember that God is the Almighty, our Creator and our destiny, and that we are His creatures and should be His faithful people; b) patience – God has forgiven us our sins and brought us back to His friendship, for without Him we can do nothing; c) unity of the spirit – we are a people, a family, invited and commanded to walk in His ways, to live in peace and attain His salvation here and now and in the life to come.
- “…. you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all….” (cf. 4:1-6). Five loaves and two fish are certainly not enough. The world is too small for things that we like to have. But Jesus is big enough to fill the emptiness of our hearts. With Him we can live lives in wisdom, courage, hope, faith, and self-giving in the midst of a world infected by selfishness and indifference
There are many things in life that we take for granted: water, electricity, food, members of our family and many others. Until we lose them, we don’t miss them. We come to Church every week, or every day, and we can also take the Mass for granted. We can even take Jesus for granted, for He has always been mentioned to us since we were children, and we have grown up in our religion and our devotions.
By fully participating in and consciously partaking of the Eucharist, we are filled with Jesus, we learn to share Him with others, we manifest His greatness to the world and we become more grateful for the blessings we have and those of others. In the Eucharist, selfishness is eradicated, indifference destroyed and pride torn down, as it is the Body and Blood of Jesus given up for us and for the forgiveness of sins.
Let us be grateful to Him for the Eucharist and all other blessings. Let us be attentive to Him at all times, in prayer, in our responsibilities and in our relationships. When we visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament, allow Him to talk to us. Let us always make it point to make Jesus present in our endeavors, plans, joys, and suffering. God will not forsake us, if only we listen to Him, obey His commands and remain faithful to Him.