Theme: THE LORD FEEDS US WITH MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD
- 2 Kings 4:42-44;
- Psalm 144 (145): 10-11. 15-18. R/ v. 16;
- Ephesians 4:1-6
- John 6:1-15
Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord feeds us with material and spiritual food!
The gospel today tells us that Jesus did three most important things that can solve the three biggest problems in our world today!
Jesus thanked God for the bread! Today the world does not believe in God and does not pray. Jesus did not only believe in God, but he believed that God was his Father; and Jesus did not only pray, but he prayed the most important prayer of all, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving! The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving!
Indeed, an American Creation theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is more than enough! We thank God for creation, salvation and sanctification! Indeed, if we begin by thanking God for creation; for the sun, moon and stars; for the sky, the land and the sea; for the food, the drink and the air, etc.; we will not be able to finish thanking Him even until the end of time!
Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish! Today, one of the biggest problems in the world is poverty, hunger, sickness and injustices. Today the gospel exhorts the rich nations of the first world to share with the poor nations of the third world! There is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed! (M. Gandhi)
After the people had eaten enough, Jesus instructed his disciples to pick up the pieces left over so that nothing gets “wasted”! (NJB; CSB) “Waste not, want not”! Today our wasteful and greedy lifestyles have destroyed the environment: Global warming, melting of ice, rising seas, floods, drought, fire, and extreme climate change, etc. We need to live a simple lifestyle; we need to distinguish between our needs and our wants! We need to distinguish between our need and our greed! Again, there is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed!
I am happy to note that in our parish we have begun recycling our newspapers, reusing our plastic bottles and Christmas decorations and we have begun our garage sale! This is not only to raise funds for building our Catechetical Centre, but more importantly, this is also to protect the environment! Indeed, we need to reduce, reuse and recycle! The 3 Rs!
But most importantly, the gospel today tells us that after having eaten enough and having leftovers, the people wanted to make Jesus king, but Jesus escaped back to the hills by himself! Jesus was not only a king who feeds the people with material food, but Jesus was also a Savior who feeds the people with spiritual food, the spiritual food of his body and blood in the Eucharist! Indeed the actions of Jesus in the feeding of the five thousand men symbolize the actions of Jesus in the Eucharist: take, thank, break and give! And indeed, chapter 6 of today’s gospel ends with a discourse on the Eucharist! (Jn 6: 51-58)
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54; CSB)
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the prophet Elisha fed one hundred men with twenty loaves! Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves! Elisha prefigured Jesus Christ! Again, as in the feeding of the five thousand, there were leftovers! Indeed, God provides and He provides abundantly; not only was there enough to eat, but there were leftovers!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God provides not only for human beings, but God provides for all His creatures! Thus we read in the second stanza:
“The eyes of all creatures look to you and you give them their food in due time. You open wide your hand, grant the desires of all who live.” (Ps 144 (145): 15-16; SM)
And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.” (Ps 144 (145): 16; SM)
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us to live in unity. This is because of the “seven unities” (CSB), that is, we are united in one Body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all! That is why we have to live in unity! Become what we are!
Today in this Mass, we thank God the Father for his Son Jesus Christ and we ask God to give us His Holy Spirit, so that like his Son Jesus Christ we may thank Him for all things, we may share our resources with others and we may protect the environment. And so that like his Son Jesus Christ we may give our lives to others and live in unity. A happy and holy Sunday to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.