YEAR B: CATHOLIC HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: GOD OF ABUNDANCE
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY: 2 kings 4:42-44
2 Ephesians 4:1-6
If our offering means nothing to us, it means nothing to God.
I am very sure many of us would feel that many rich people are not doing enough in terms of how much support they give to many others who can barely afford a daily meal, most especially when we consider the fact that many of the rich have more than enough to spare. My homily today is not directed towards either the rich or the poor, but to everyone who is opportuned to be listening to (reading) this homily today.
The feeding of the five thousand is recorded in all the Gospels with only slight difference in details. The feeding of the five thousand had some precedent in early Hebrew Scriptures as we read in the Hebrew reading today from the book of Kings. Instead of five thousand, it was a hundred, but Elisha managed to listen to God and told the young man to bring out his twenty loaves and feed the people. Somehow, miraculously, all the people were fed and there was some left over. And our psalm today reiterates the idea that God will feed us, that God satisfies all the needs of the people who love him. God will also give us what we need when we need it, if we continue loving, having faith and opening up to God.
That openness is what I would like to dwell on today and not the miracle of the loaves as many would expect. Miracles are signs pointing to something greater, something more enduring. But often we focus more on the miracles, losing sight of what they represent and where they point – the kingdom of God.
For many of us what is on hand, the “supply” in economic terms, cannot possibly meet the need, or the “demand.” We may be right to feel this way considering the great tragedies that so often dominate the news, caused by the violence of nature and even more by the greed and corruption of persons, most especially those who are charged with administering the resources. So for many of us our response to all these is “What can I do? Only God can help us” we ask and resign powerlessly.
Beloved in Christ, is it enough to say, “Leave it all in the Lord’s hands”? Well, in a sense, YES and in another NO. Yes in the sense that “in the Lord’s hands” is the right place to leave all that troubles us. But ‘No’ in the sense that, that is not all we place in the Lord’s hands. What do I have that I can place in his hands that he can then “multiply”? After all, Jesus did not multiply loaves out of nothingness; he started with the bread that was brought to him. In many cases, that means actually trusting God and giving our all.
That seems to be asking us for the impossible. God often asks people to do what seems impossible and then it happens according to the word of the Lord. We can only come to trust the Lord this way if we have built up such a relationship of trust over time with the Lord—or if we trust the person asking us to do the impossible. Over and over in our time, we are asked to do the impossible—which is simply to believe in Jesus as God and Jesus as our Lord. In other cases, perhaps in most cases, what we place in God’s hands is not all we have. We just do not want to take the risk of handing everything to him. We just want to give little. But we should note that, if our offering means nothing to us, it means nothing to God.
Is there any of us who has not received something from God? God knows what he has given each of us, whether you consider yourself as ‘Rich’ or ‘Poor,’ and He is asking us to give from the little we think we have to those who are even in more immediate need. But what do we often hear? “God knows I don’t have enough to spare.” Let us remember the words of the Scripture “For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mark 4:25). So if we say we don’t have, then the little we think we have would be taken away. Can we be sincere enough to acknowledge what we have received from God? Can we be generous enough to give back to Him what he has handed to us, in total trust?
Most of us doubt that God really will provide for us. Many times we simply do not ask God and do not pray because we know that it is impossible. Part of growing in our faith is learning to ask the impossible, to ask God to act, to ask God to be present in all our thoughts, words and deeds. It seems so simple and yet is an absolutely profound act of faith to trust in the Lord.
Our God is a God of abundance! The miracle of abundance of wine at Cana, and the miracle of abundance of bread on the hillside by the shores of Galilee are precursors to what Jesus would declare in the Gospel of John, “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10b). Are we ready to be satisfied by his fullness? Are we ready to abandon our scarcity-mentality and embrace his abundance? Are we ready to transit from chaos to cosmos?
As we prepare to celebrate these mysteries today, we are invited to place our intentions and our struggles on the altar to be taken, blessed, broken, and shared with our loving God. May we have the courage and the humility to do so, and then to receive with great thanks the abundant gifts which the Lord wishes to share with us.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*