Homily (Sermon) – The Lord Provides, Introduce others to Jesus, Offer what you have.
The Readings for Sunday 29th July 2012 or the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]
This was my first homily to St. John Fisher in 2009 and to a real congregation. It was based on three points, 1. The Lord provides in abundance, 2. Introduce others to Jesus and watch what happens, 3. Offer what you have it's amazing what the Lord can do.
2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
Last Sunday I was lucky enough to be by myself in San Francisco, I got up early and went to Mass at St Patrick's church in the down town area. Then I walked to the ferry port and got a ferry across the bay to Sausalito, then a bus to Muir woods, where the giant redwood tree grow. It was a beautiful sunny day and in the cool shade under the trees, I spent the next two hours walking up the side of a mountain. At about 1000ft up as the path turned and started back down, I stopped, had a long drink of water and wished that I had been sensible enough to bring something to eat. Listening to the gospel we have just heard reminded me of that feeling of hunger, so in a small way I can really feel for that crowd that followed Jesus.
Today's gospel is probably familiar to us, it should be as the miracle described, the “miracle of the loaves”, is the only miracle described in all four gospels. It is even described twice in the gospels of Mark and Matthew. It's also, not the first time miracles about people being feed are performed, as we heard in the old testament reading Elisha feeds 100 men with only 20 loaves.
Because it's so familiar, it is easy for us not to listen carefully, or not to think what does this mean for me today. But because it's repeated so often it must be significant, therefore all the more reason to study the words we have heard today.
Elisha was a great prophet about 900 years before Jesus, he performed many miracles, like curing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry, he even made iron float, a miracle we don't hear Jesus doing. The large crowd that followed Jesus up the hillside would know about Elisha. The author of John's Gospel would also have known that his readers would be well aware of who Elisha was and what he did.
There are two differences in the story's, the first is how the miracle is performed, the second is the numbers involved. Elisha's miracle is performed by the word of the Lord, “They will eat and have some left over” spoken by a prophet. Where as Jesus, performs the miracle by giving thanks and giving out the food.
The number of people feed too, is much bigger, 50 times bigger. What Jesus is demonstrating and what we are being told is that Jesus is more than Elisha, much more than a prophet, Jesus is the messiah, Jesus is the son of God.
In John's gospel it's this miracle of the loaves, not the last supper which isn't mentioned, that Jesus uses teaches us of the bread of life and the Eucharist that we will share together in a few minutes. I wont steal any more from Fr. Franks homily next week, because next weeks Gospel continues, directly after this one. So try and remember this story when your listening next week.
I would like to turn now, to what this gospel can teach us about our lives today. What should we ponder on this coming week? How should we live our lives in accordance with the gospel?
Well I have just three things I want you to think about:
1. The Lord provides in abundance
2. Introduce others to Jesus and watch what happens
3. Offer what you have, it's amazing what the Lord will do with it.
First lets think about providing in abundance, we heard today not only of the feeding, but of the leftovers. The Lord says, “They will eat and have some left over”, and “they filled twelve hampers with scraps.” For us we must trust that the lord knows what we need and will provide for us, not just the minimum to survive, but in abundance, whether that abundance is food, friends, knowledge or spiritual support. We as Christians are not guaranteed an easy life, in many ways the opposite, we are not praying for an abundance of wealth or for all the sweets we can eat. When we are doing the lords work, he will support us, give us the gifts to do that work, and give them to us in abundance. The very fact I can stand here trying to break open the word of the Lord is an example for me, of the abundance of his gifts.
Next, Introducing others to Jesus.
Andrew, one of my favourite disciples for this very reason, is always introducing people to Jesus. Here we find him introducing a small boy with his packed lunch. Why did he do it? Would all his friends, the other disciples, laugh at him for suggesting this boy could help? Or did he think, Jesus will turn this small meal into enough for everyone? I doubt it. But Andrew took that risk and look what happened.
It's because of people like you that I found a faith in Christ, the way you live your lives this week could change someone else's life, it could help them find Jesus.
Finally, offer what you have. Did the small boy today say, “No its my lunch and I am not sharing, get your own.” No he gave it to Jesus, who gave is back five thousand fold.
Charity is one of the great pillars of our faith, watch what happens when you give, of your time, your love, your skills or even your wealth. God will take it and do something amazing with it.
So this next week, give a little, live your faith, and rejoice in the abundance of good things given to us by our Lord, who is loving in all his deeds.
About the Author - Deacon John Scanlon
Last weeks Homily 16th Sunday - Homily Index - Next weeks Homily 18th Sunday