Homily (2) 17th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: 2 kings 4:42-44; Ps 145:1-11, 15-18; Eph 4:1-6 and John 6:1-15
Trusting in God for our Needs!
As we study, preach and live the Bible, the Word of God, we see a lot of parallels and similarities between the ministry of Israel’s prophets and that of our Lord Jesus Christ. The story of a nameless man from Baal-shalishah who brought twenty barley loaves made from first fruits, and fresh fruits from the ear, to Elisha for the feeding of a hundred people with plenty of left overs, parallel the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 by multiplying the five barley loves and two fish brought by a boy, in today’s Gospel (John 6:1-15).
These parallel stories teach us about the infinite love of God. The Lord of multiplicity of blessings for a multiplicity of peoples. If we trust in this God everything is possible. His love, care and compassion, towards his flock( alluded to in the last Sunday’s gospel reading, Mark 6:34), has no boundary! Last Sunday his heart was moved with pity for the crowd. This Sunday he went ahead and fed the crowd.
As the disciples of Jesus were to learn from the feeding of the crowd of 5,000 people with a few only 5 loaves and 2 fish, and have 12 baskets of fragments left, here in 2 Kings 4, we meet the challenges that confronted Israel’s prophets, their followers, particularly prophet Elisha who was called and sent to preach to idolatrous nations, the worshippers of Baal, pagan fertility god, rather than YHWH, the God of Israel. These prophetic challenges included persecution, hardship and starvation.
Beside these inevitable prophetic challenges, it is interesting and ironic to note in the that it was a nameless man from Baal-shalishah who brought food and his first grains to the man who was opposed to the gods of Baals and their worship. This episode resembles that of Jesus who would later use only 5 loaves and 2 fish from a nameless little boy to bless 5,000 people. Also, the amazement of his disciples, who thought, “what good are these for so many?” could be likened to the amazement of a skeptical servant who said to the prophet Elisha,“how can I set this before a hundred people.?” With God everything is possible. These miracles therefore,underscore our needs to grow in faith, obedience and trust in God who provides for us. If God could be generous to us, there is the need for us to be generous in turns to our neighbors, especially to the poor, homeless and foodless. We need to be generous to our neighbors. We also need to grow in wisdom, integrity, honesty, love for the church and her teachings, the unity our faith and unity of purpose at meals provided us by the Lord.
From Saints Paul's point of view, in the 2nd reading, our needs, that only God can supply and multiply include living and practicing Christianity and Catholicism in manner worthy of our calling, with humility, courage, gentleness, patience, bearing or tolerating one another with love–and striving to promote unity in our broken and divided world of communities (Eph 4:1-6). Unity, since we are all called to be part of that one body, serve one Lord, keep one faith, as sharers in one baptism and one meal, one bread, one cup on the table of the Holy Eucharist. Imagine what our world would be if all baptized Christians and Catholics in particular were to speak one voice, teach one faith, vote one faith, spread love, charity and good works after the manner of Christ Jesus!
Therefore, may we all return to the God of Elisha, manifested in Christ Jesus, with our social-political, economic, physical and spiritual needs.