Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 29, 2018
When we hear about the miracles Jesus performed, we often think: How did he do that?
How did Jesus feed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish? How did Jesus walk on water with human feet? How did Jesus raise his friend Lazarus from the dead? (And, my personal favorite) How did Jesus change ordinary water into wine?
When we think of such miracles, the question isn’t “how”, but “why”? Why did Jesus perform these miracles?
The simple answer is because he loves us, and he wants us to learn to know him, and to trust him. God knows what we need before we even ask for it. We have to trust he will provide what we need.
If you want some insights as to “how” Jesus does all this, look to what Jesus does many times before he performs a miracle: He opens his hands in prayer … and satisfies our deepest needs He does this by being an instrument of God’s grace.
We too, are called to be an instrument of grace.
Here’s a Fun Fact: The miracle story of the feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle contained in all four Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John). Today’s version (from the Gospel of John) is different in what we hear in the Synoptic Gospels (Mathew, Mark and Luke).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is totally in charge. He is the assertive one concerned about feeding the crowd. Jesus himself is the one who distributes the loaves and fishes to the people. John’s version of this miracle story (the multiplication of the loaves and fishes) is a sign Jesus uses to reveal something about him: Jesus is the prophet promised to God’s people. But Jesus is more than a prophet; he is the Bread of Life.
As we know from other scripture, Jesus is the one who ultimately feeds people in abundance with his body and blood.
I went to the Internet (the source of all factual information) and Googled the phrase: “How many Catholic Masses each day?”
According to one source, there are an estimated 350,000 Catholic Masses celebrated every day on planet earth.
Think about it: 350,000 Masses each day, 365 days per year, for over 2,000 years (the numbers are staggering! In the billions!) And why? Because God loves us!
- He sent his only Son to dwell among us, to experience human needs, and pain, and suffering … just like us!
- He sent his only Son to lay down his life for the forgiveness of our sins
- And we – 2,000 years later – continue to celebrate his passion, death and resurrection each day, in every part of the world
That is a strong message of love and trust.
In today’s First Reading, we heard how God provided all that his people needed.
In today’s Psalm, we heard that “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.”
Today’s Gospel reminds us that God not only feeds us, but that He will take whatever fragments we have to give, and feed us with abundance.
All he asks is that we trust him.
So I invite you, as we receive Jesus’s Body and Blood today, to be conscious of God’s abundant love and grace.
As we go forward this week, let us reflect on how we trust in God.
- Do we trust him enough to allow him to be totally in charge of our lives and to guide us?
- Are we conscious of the many ways we have been abundantly blessed by God’s grace?