Homily 17th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings; 2 Kings 4:42-44; Ps145:10-11, 15-18; Eph 4:1-6 and John 6:1-15
Generosity of Christ, Our Lord and Prophet
In the Gospel reading of today Jesus took from a little boy five ordinary loaves and two fish. He multiplied them to the amazement of everyone, including his disciples and fed to their satisfaction, the multitude that had followed him.The Bible says five thousand men, no doubt there were also women and children in the crowd who were hungry too. He asked the left-over be preserved in twelve wicker basket to avoid wastage. This incidence is also recorded with some variations in the synoptic (Matt 14: 13-15; Mark 6:34-36 and Luke 9:11-12). This goes to strengthen the veracity of the divine power of Christ, his kindness, his meticulousity, approachability and generosity for us. He has the ability to use us as his instrument to bring us together, to heal us, to feed us, to unite us when we are scattered. He watches over us always and provides our spiritual and material needs. Even the Psalmist puts it well that, “the hand of the Lord fees us; and answers all our prayers,’ (Ps 145:16).
This is true in the history of God walking and journeying with us, even from the time of Moses in the wilderness, and prophet of Elisha, thousands of years before Christ. We are told in that first reading that a man came from a place called Baal-shalishah bringing Elisha, the man of God some food, twenty barley loaves made from firsfruit, and fresh grain in the ear. But Elisha, God’s instrument prefers to pass this on miraculously and divinely to the hungry hundreds of people who were starving. Like in the gospels, the twenty barley loaves were multiplied to the satisfaction of many with lots of left-over.
What strikes me in these miracles, particularly the gospel is that if Christ could care for those who suddenly followed him because they saw him earlier performed a miracle of healing the sick, what about ourselves who have been following him from the day of our baptism. He proves the doubting disciples wrong. Very thankful to God his father in prayer and he is accommodating, to everyone. He does not want the hungry crowd left standing. He provided them a seat on the grass and was patient to make sure they had had their fill. And what about the little boy who bore the five loves and two fish. Though weak God can use us as his instrument, to assist our neighbors.
Granted that today many of us do temporarily suffer rejection, testing, sicknesses, hunger, lack of jobs, insurances, and all forms of poverty; spiritual and material. Even in the midst of plenty in United States and other industrialized nations, many, we told still (about 30,000 million Americans) do not have health insurance while many are out of work. I see daily how many poor and starved people troop to our parish food pantry for ordinary food, not for luxuries. Even those of us that have jobs are struggling to pay their bills or send their children to college. Each of us would always have needs. God will never withhold his help from us, when we come to him in prayers for our various needs. And he can help us through somebody sitting by your side.
St. Paul from his personal experiences has suggestions for us. He calls himself, ‘a prisoner for the Lord,’ (Eph 4:1-6). He knows how to come to Christ in moments of spiritual and material needs. He wants us to be prayerful, patient, humble, gentle, bearing with one another through love and strive to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace, one body and one Spirit, one faith, one hope and one baptism.
If the Lord could care for those who suddenly followed him he will continue to be generous to us who have been baptized in him, with our various needs, material and spiritual.
And for those of us that have experienced uniquely, God’s generosity, materially and spiritually the Lord wants us to be his instruments like Elisha, like the little boy in the gospel miracle, and to share these blessings and generosities with our neighbors, especially the less-privileged.