YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: LIFE IN CHRIST
BY: Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
The second reading today tells us: “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.” We have been called to live in Christ Jesus and every aspect of our life should in relationship to Him. None of us can do that completely consistently but we are invited and encouraged to keep trying.
The first reading is from the Second Book of Kings and tells about the Prophet Elisha asking a man to give his 20 barley loaves to feed 100 people. The man knew that it would not be enough, but the Prophet tells him to do it anyway and to trust in God. The man gives his food to the 100 and there is food left over.
This teaching from the Prophet Elisha is deeply felt throughout the whole of the Old Testament. 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. When we truly believe that Jesus is God and Lord, then our lives change and we are able to do many impossible things.
Living in a manner worthy of our call means being willing to try the impossible when we are asked because we trust in the Lord.
Today’s Gospel passage from Saint John reflects the first reading. Jesus asks Philip to feed the people and Philip knows right away that there is not enough food. He complains that not even a large amount of money would be able to purchase enough food. Philip forgets the teaching that with the Lord, there is always enough! Jesus has to remind both Philip and Andrew that there will always be enough when we trust in the Lord. And, indeed, there is more than enough. The food picked up afterwards is more than the food with which they began.
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.
This Sunday we can ask for this kind of deep faith and begin to look and see how God is present in all things, caring for us, and doing what we need.
Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico