17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
2 Kings 4: 42-44 + Psalm 145: 10-11, 15-18 + Ephesians 4: 1-6 + John 6: 1-15
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: Sunday, July 25, 2021
The apostles Philip and Andrew live under the illusion of scarcity.
They believe there is only so much to go around
and that there is never enough for everybody.
Philip— “Even if we had the money from 200 days of wages,
we could not purchase enough food to even give this large crowd even a little food.”
Andrew, in the face of the boy’s generous gift—“What good are these for so many?”
Even though Philip and Andrew walk and sleep and eat in the shadow of the One
who reveals by word and deed and by his very life the superabundance
of God’s goodness and love, these two apostles live under the illusion of scarcity—
that there is never going to be enough, that there is so little to go around.
The boy who blesses them with a very generous gift—5 loaves of barley bread
and 2 fish—lives in a different world than Philip and Andrew.
This boy knows because he has been taught by his parents that by sharing
the little he has there will always be more than enough to go around.
The barley loaf boy knows this to be true when especially when giving away
what he has to Jesus for Jesus to bless and break and share.
The multiplication of the loaves occurs in all four Gospels, but only in John’s Gospel
is this boy mentioned and what kind of loaves are given to Jesus to bless and share—barley loaves.
This is the bread for the poor and of the poor, the only bread the poor can afford to eat.
So, this boy shares all that his family has to eat for the day.
By doing so, he reminds us that those who are “poor” teach us
about the generosity of God and the providence of God and the goodness of God,
and that for those who trust in God there is no need to worry if there will be enough, because there are always leftovers—always more than enough.
Those who live under the illusion of scarcity also live under the illusion of separateness.
Believing there is never enough and that one has to protect the little one has,
leads to people separating themselves from others.
When one lives a life based on scarcity, one builds walls to keep others out,
to protect the “little” one has.
Looking at the world which God created through the lens of scarcity
causes one to make one’s group or tribe or political party into God.
Looking at life from the perspective of scarcity causes one to
demonize those who are different or who have different opinions.
The barley loaf boy and those like him teach us the truth that we are all one family
under God, that we are all brothers and sisters to each other.
The barley loaf boy reminds us that every single one of us came into this world
with nothing and will take nothing with us when we leave this world,
so we are all united in our daily dependence on the generosity of God.
The barley loaf boy, by his generous gift, challenges us to see what is most real and true–
that the hand of the Lord feeds us, giving us all we need.
Indeed, as Jesus distributes to the large crowd what the boy has given him,
that truth becomes evident, for the hand of the Lord feeds them,
providing them with what they need…and more.
Once we recognize and embrace the truth that we are all poor,
that our daily bread comes to us from the hand of a loving Father,
then the illusion of separateness shatters.
We see others as our brothers, not as enemies in the fight over scarce resources.
Instead of building walls, we build longer tables to welcome our sisters
to the feast of God’s goodness.
St. Paul challenges us to “live in the manner worthy of the call you have received.”
Called by God to this feast of his love, to this bountiful meal where we are fed
by the gift of His Son given to us and for us, we are to live likewise.
Living from the reality of the Holy Communion we share, we model our lives
on the Generous One who gives his life away, so we might do the same for others.
If we are going to be one body in Christ, we live the virtues Paul proposes:
humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance.
All these virtues involve putting ourselves in second place
for the sake of promoting oneness in Christ.
When we live from the Christian worldview of abundance, when we are aware
of how much we have received, then it does not make sense to be selfish.
When we know the great generosity of God shown to us in the grand gift of His Son,
it makes no sense to look out for ourselves at the expense of others.
For we have been given more than what appears to be.
In fact, we are more than what we appear to be.
We have the potential to feed a world hungering for God’s saving love in Christ.
Christ’s love and His life, given to us in this Eucharist,
are meant to flow through us to others.
When shared, His love and His life grows stronger in us,
becoming more than enough for us and more than enough for others.