Homily for 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, 2018
Aug 2, 2018
Think about this for a minute:
of all the people in the history of humankind,
is there a person you wish you might have been?
Well, I could name several people I wish I might have been
but certainly in the top ten would be
this little boy with 5 loaves and the two fish.
Of course, when Jesus and his followers first took the loaves and fish
from the little boy I’d guess he was pretty upset:
they were, after all, taking his lunch.
And since he had much more food than he needed himself
he might have planned on selling some of it
to make a little pocket money.
But it wouldn’t be too long before everyone saw
what Jesus could do with just a little food
in the face of thousands of people.
I’d like to be that little boy because he could now proudly announce:
“Did you see what he did with MY bread? with MY fish!
If it wasn’t for me - you’d all be hungry right now!”
I’d love to be that little boy.
Instant celebrity for Jesus -
and for a little boy who had enough sense to pack a lunch for the day.
One great way to better understand the gospels
is to imagine ourselves in the scenes the scriptures paint for us,
just as I did with that little boy.
But suppose here, that you and I were Jesus’ disciples in this story
and we hear Jesus ask us to figure out how to feed this huge crowd.
Actually, this might not be too hard to imagine because
sometimes it might seem to us that Jesus is ALWAYS asking us,
if not to do the impossible,
then to do things that are really hard, really difficult.
But if we put ourselves in the story here,
we see what happens, we see what CAN happen,
when we do just what Jesus asks us to do:
if we meet him half way, he’ll take care of the rest.
He doesn’t ask you or me to feed the 15,000.
He just asks us to come up with 5 loaves and two fish.
Or, suppose you and I imagine ourselves
among the 15,000+ people in the crowd.
We’ve listened to Jesus preach
and we’re drawn to his truth and wisdom,
but now we’re just plain hungry.
And we begin to wonder:
“Can he can fill our bellies as he fills our souls?”
The human person experiences and knows all kinds of hunger.
If you and I were in that crowd of 15,000
what other hungers might we ask Jesus to satisfy?
What are our hungers today?
What do we hunger for, as God’s people,
after this past week’s news?
Isn’t it true that we’re hungry
for faithful and trusted leadership in the Church?
Are we not hungry for, are we not starving for
an end to abuse and scandal and shame in the Church?
Don’t we hunger for accountability, transparency and humility
when human weakness subverts the gospel’s message?
Aren’t we hungry for some answers that truly satisfy
and for reform that makes for real change?
I think you know what I’m talking about here.
I‘m trying to be sensitive to the reality that among us
are young boys and girls, like the little boy in the gospel,
children with their own loaves and fishes.
I don’t want to say anything that might dissuade them
from offering those gifts to Jesus
that he might take them, bless them and share them with us all
in ways we can’t even imagine or dream.
But our hungers are real - and our hungers are many…
After this scene in today’s gospel,
Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee again
and the next day the crowds get into their own boats and follow him.
On the other side Jesus tells them he knows they’ve followed him
because of the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
But he tells them he has food to give them
which will feed much more than their bellies.
He promises them the food of his body and blood,
his body and blood laid down, broken, and poured out for us
first on the Cross and now at his Table, this Altar.
Will you pray with me today
that Jesus will feed every hunger that is ours
and heal and nourish
our hungry, wounded, broken, abused Church.
And pray with me this morning
that in spite of the infidelity of some
we will remain faithful,
faithful to the One
who is ever faithful to us.
(H/T to Rev Austin Fleming of Boston for these fine words.)