YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: JESUS ALONE SATISFIES
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
A poor man had a rich but evil neighbor. Although poor, he was deeply religious. He would pray aloud many times during the day. This greatly irritated the rich man. One day, the poor man prayed so loudly: “Lord, I have no more bread. I will die of hunger. Please help me!” Hearing this, the rich man decided to make fun of his neighbor. He brought a basket of bread and placed it on the front door of his neighbor’s house. Then he went into hiding. When the poor man opened his door, he was jubilant upon seeing the bread: “Lord, thank you very much for answering my prayer! You, indeed, are so good!” At this point, the rich man came out and ridiculed him: “You fool! It was not your God who gave you the bread. It was I!” The poor man was surprised, but only for a while. Then he prayed again: “Lord,thank you very much. You really love me that you even used the devil to help me!”
Last Sunday we said: “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs” (Ps 145).The multiplication of the loaves by Jesus is the clear proof of this truth. God always provides for our needs. This Sunday, we continue reading from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St.John. After miraculously feeding the five thousand men, Jesus began teaching about the Bread of Life. But he immediately noticed that the people were not interested in his teachings but in the physical bread. So he told them: “Amen, amen I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”(Jn 6:26). Obviously, their motivation in following Jesus was materialistic and selfish. So he gave them this advice: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life,which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn 6:27). And still they did not get the message. They were thinking of a physical food to fill their stomach: “Sir, give us this food.” Materialistic minds just cannot comprehend spiritual truths. So, Jesus had to be direct to the point: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn 6:35).This statement is an invitation to accept Jesus into our lives. He knows the workings of the human heart. As long as Jesus is away from the life of a person, that person will find no end to his desire for more of this world’s goods.
This we can see in the situation of our bodies.Why do many people have diabetes and kidney and liver problems? It is because of the way we eat. We are not contented with the taste of the food we eat. We start with putting salt on it. And we do it every meal. As the days go by, we get used to the taste, and so we add more salt. The same is true with sugar. What was sweet before is not anymore as sweet today. So we add more sugar to our food and drink. There is no end to that, until our body cannot handle the sugar and salt intake. And we have problems with our kidneys and liver and also develop diabetes.
This is also true to what happens in our soul. Our appetite for worldly goods is insatiable.We already have, but we still crave for more. And there is no end to that. For me the most miserable person in the world is not the one who is materially poor, but the person who is already rich and still wants to have more. He is running after his shadow, and that is frustrating and exhausting. There is no freedom. He becomes the slave of material things. And there is no peace and contentment. Hence, there can be no real happiness.
This is the fruit of materialism. The challenge for us today is to recognize that the false god of materialism, which promises satisfaction but leaves us ever more hungry and empty, has seduced our society. The only cure is Jesus. We have to accept him into our lives andfollow him: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoeverbelieves in me will never thirst.”
Let me end with the following story: A young man inherited his father’s small farm. He was not really happy because the farm was so small. He wanted more land. One day, an angel came and gave him a very interesting proposition. He will have all the land he could walk around in one day, on condition that he would be back at the spot from where he started by sundown.Early the next morning the young man hastily set out, skipping breakfast. His first plan was to cover six square miles. When he finished the first six, he decided to make it nine, then twelve, and finally fifteen. This meant he would have to walk and run 60 miles before sundown. By noon he had covered thirty miles. He did not stop for food or drink. His legs grew heavier and heavier. About 200 yards from the finish line, he saw the sun going down. He still had a few minutes left. He gathered all his energies for that one last effort. He staggered across the line, just in time. Then he felt a sudden sharp pain on his chest. He reached for his chest and fell down in a heap – dead! All the land he got was a piece of six feet by two. He died of greed!
May we not fall into the same mistake. This world promises so many things but they leave us wanting for more. We become more hungry and thirsty, and there is no end to it. Like St.Augustine, may we also be able to say: O Lord, you have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they rest in You.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Diocese of Novaliches