Homily for seventeenth Sunday B
Our readings today draws attention to the ability of God to provide for his people, he knows our needs and he is able to provide. In the first reading, a man brought twenty barley loaves and fresh grain to the prophet Elisha as an offering of his first-fruits. Elisha said to his own servant, give it to the people to eat. Probably the prophet had some one hundred hungry men with him when this first-fruits offering was made, and so he ordered his servant to give the twenty loaves of bread to the men.
For the servant, the twenty loaves will do nothing for the one hundred hungry men, so he asked the prophet; How can I serve this to a hundred men? But the prophet held onto what the Lord had said and insisted that the bread be given to the one hundred hungry men, they will eat it and have left over because the Lord had said so. If the Lord says yes, nobody can say no. The servant served the hungry men, He served them; they ate and had some over, as the Lord had said.
The same kind of miracle is reported in our gospel reading today. Jesus went up the hillside together with his apostles to be by themselves, to pray, to be empowered. He looked and saw a hungry crowd coming toward them, and he turned to Philip and asked; Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat? Jesus was not looking for solution from Philip, he only tested him because he knew what he himself would do. Philip was fast in his calculations and concluded that it was going to be difficult, but we thank God that Andrew was there. He identified a small boy with five barley loaves and two fish and brought him to Jesus. With the little boy’s barley loaves and fish Jesus fed five thousand men to their satisfaction, and twelve baskets full of leftover were picked up.
This miracle foreshadowed the gift of the Holy Eucharistic, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Growing up, I observed in my local small Church that the priest raises the large consecrated host during Mass, and I concluded that it was that large host the priest breaks and distributed to the whole Church. I wondered how the priest multiplies that one large host to go round the whole Church, not knowing that there were other smaller pieces. But that childish wonder is not far from the truth, it is a reality that the Lord feeds so many from one loaf.
In our first reading, Elisha fed one hundred men with twenty loaves by the power of God. In our gospel reading today, Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves, and today Jesus continues to feed the world with one loaf; his Body.
Elisha trusted the word of God, he acted on it. He ordered his servant to give the bread out because the Lord says they will eat and have some left over. That is how powerful God’s word is, by it the world was created, and the word is still very active and powerful today and for ever.
Do you trust the word of God? Do you believe what it says? If the word of God says there is a way for you, there will be a way even if there seem to be no way right now? Elisha’s servant and Philip both wondered if God met what he said. Deep within, they may have wondered if God could actually feed the people with the few available loaves of bread, but he did; he is faithful to his word. Andrew expressed some level of faith, for he knew very well that the five loaves and two fish would mean nothing compare to the number of those to be fed, yet he had the confidence, the faith to bring the little boy to Jesus. He was convinced that It may not be possible for man, but with Jesus it is possible. That is the kind of faith we are called to possess, to trust in God in all situation. We may be in the worst situation right now, the world telling us no hope, but like Andrew, trust in God even when there seems to be no way. Let everything go like the little boy in our gospel;he gave all he had. He had to let the seed fall down and die in order to yield in hundred fold. We have to let go to let in; let fear go and let boldness in, doubt no more but have faith. Jesus is Lord, he is able to do all things.