17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)


17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B) Jn 6: 1-15 - Jul 29, 2018

“Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted”.

Walking on the street the other day, I saw a hungry homeless and blind man who was shouting, “Please God, give me something to eat.” A young girl, who had heard him, passed by and put a loaf of bread on his hand. The man said, “Thank you God.” When John in his Gospel tells us that there were 5,000 men coming to Jesus, he does not mean that only men were listening to Jesus´ teaching that day; we know women and their children were also there, so there should be over 15,000 people together that day. The exhausted people needed not only spiritual food, and rest, but also something to eat. A boy is willing to share his own lunch with others: five barley loaves and two fish. But like in the case of the generous girl, it is both Jesus and the youngster who give the people bread and fish to eat.

Today we start reading John´s Gospel chapter six, the discourse on the Bread of Life. This is such a long chapter of seventy-one verses, that we will continue reading it for four more Sundays. We have today in our Gospel reading the first fifteen verses referring to the feeding of a big crowd, and we normally call this miracle, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. But beyond a physical wonder, there is a more profound miracle, Jesus shares with us whom he really is; he gives us the gift of his life.

After Jesus had worked many miracles, “A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.” So he went up on a mountain with his disciples. As Jesus saw the crowd, he asked them, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" Philip answered that he did not know. Another disciple, Andrew by name, said to Jesus, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many?" Jesus ordered the people to get organized. Then he took the bread, gave thanks, and gave it to the people, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. After the dinner, the disciples gathered twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that were left over. Since the people wanted to carry him off to crown him as a king, Jesus withdrew again to be alone on the mountain.

What a practical lesson the Gospel teaches us today? The compassion of Jesus prompts him to feed a hungry crowd, but Jesus needs human help; he wants people to get involved also. There is a boy who volunteers to share his own food. This young man becomes a main character of the story; he provides five barley loaves and two fishes. We as the boy have something to offer the Lord; thus, Jesus can help the needy with our support, because hunger cannot be postponed.

When I preside over the Holy Eucharist I celebrate with you, I realize that this is a great mystery and despite my human weaknesses I dare to celebrate it because that is not my bread that I have been called upon to share with you, but it is the Lord´s bread that he gives me for you to eat.

In the same way, when you question yourselves if you are good enough to lead and teach your family according to the Gospel, you may feel unworthy, but do not get discouraged, the bread you feed your family with is the Lord´s bread strengthened through the sacraments you have received, especially the sacrament of marriage, and of course, your prayers and good example. Before the miracle, five loaves and two fishes seemed to be too little to feed so many, but after all there was enough food for everyone. The same happens at home and in the Church, when the bread comes from the Lord, there is plenty of spiritual food for the whole family.

Even today, five loaves and two fishes seem too little on our eyes, but the Lord could nourish thousands of people. Receiving the Eucharist at Mass and proclaiming the Word of God can give us enough strength to feed our lives and our families´ during the week. Let us continue nourishing ourselves at home during the week, such as, praying together before meals and at bedtime. This may seem too little on our eyes, but it gives us spiritual power.

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