YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: SHARE THE GIFTS OF GOD IN YOUR POSSESSION
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE
The harsh experiences and challenges people face in the world today and the increasing cases of hunger and substandard, and in some cases subhuman, level of life are not actually caused by the lack or the limitedness of resources, but by our inability to share the gifts of God in our midst and by the hoarding of our common good by a few. To share is to provide the basic raw material for God’s intervention of multiplication. May God grant us the grace to realize that by sharing the temporal goods He has bestowed on us we dispose ourselves to share in the eternity He has prepared for those who do His will; Amen.
The miracle of the multiplication of bread was one of the most striking miracles of Jesus Christ in the mind of his apostles and disciples and maybe the most known of all the miracles in the early Christian communities. This could be seen in the very fact that it was the only miracle recorded by the four Gospels. Today’s Gospel Reading (John 6:1-15) is the Johannine account of this miracle. Jesus was always very sensitive about the needs of those around him. This time around, it was the crowd that followed him because they saw the many signs he had worked. Looking up Jesus saw that the crowd was in need, not just of a spiritual refill but necessarily of a physical refill. The disciples were confused because they knew what it would cost to feed the crowd; but there was a little boy who had what would solve their problem if only he could share and one of the disciples did locate this boy and brought him to Jesus. One of the striking specifics in the scene of this miracle was this little boy with the five barley loaves and two fish identified by Andrew and presented by him to Jesus. In the very words of Saint Andrew “There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?” Sometimes, at a first glance when we read and listen to the account of this miracle, we may think that the five barley loaves and two fish were the true raw materials for the miracle performed by Jesus. A deeper look shows that it was actually the little boy’s ability to share. Of what use would have been his five loaves and two fish had he refused to share?
The First Reading (2 Kings 4:42-44) recounts a similar experience of the prophet Elisha when God intervened in a time of scarcity and lack by creating a concrete scene of abundance out of the disposition and ability to share by the man “who came from Baal-shalishah, bringing Elisha, the man of God, bread from the first-fruits, twenty barley loaves and fresh grain in the ear.” We multiply bread when we share what we have. Elisha also made this experience as through his words of faith in the God of abundance “they ate and had some left over, as the Lord had said.” The greatest scarcity in the world is caused by those who hoard what God has given us, either as individuals or as cooperate bodies or governments or nations and refuse to share. By sharing the blessings and gifts of God we have with others, every one of us becomes satisfied and we make new experiences of God’s miracle of abundance. It could be food or clothing or accommodation or even our talents. As against those, both in state politics and in the Church, who steal and hoard what was made for the common good, sharing could just be by making honest and judicious use of what belongs to all for the good of all. Our disposition and ability to share remains an essential raw material for God’s divine intervention by way of multiplication and by doing this we hearken to God’s invitation through the words of Saint Paul in the Second Reading (Ephesians 4:1-6) “Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together.” Jesus not only taught us that by sharing what we have we can change the face of the earth for good; He also continues to teach us the necessity of this attitude by daily sharing himself for us on the table of the Eucharist.
May God make us responsive to His invitation to us to share what in this world we have received from Him so as to have a share of what He has prepared for us in the world to come; Amen.
Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE