Seventeenth Sunday B: Homily
Last Sunday, we saw that a good shepherd cares for the sheep and the sheep trustingly obey him. The gospel text of last Sunday ended with the statement: “When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw this large crowd, and his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, he began to teach them many things.” (Mk 6:34). In verse 35, Mark continues that when it was late in the evening, his disciples begged him to send the people away, so that they could buy themselves some food. But Jesus responded: “You yourselves, give them something to eat.” (v. 37).
In John 6:9, Andrew the apostle reports: “There is a boy here who has five loaves of barley bread and two fish.” Mark 6:38 seems to imply that the bread belonged to the disciples.
Remember that the disciples themselves had just come back from a mission, tired and hungry. They would have wished to keep the five loaves of bread and two fish just for themselves! In any case, Jesus decided to feed the crowd of about five thousand men with those five loaves of bread and two fish!
After Jesus had blessed the five loaves and two fish, the people ate and were satisfied. The left-overs filled twelve baskets. This implies that even the apostles, who mostly probably, would not have been satisfied by the five loaves and two fish were satisfied, and they had left-overs that could sustain them for more than a week!
Although we are still in the year of Mark’s gospel, mother Church has diverted us to John Chapter 6, because John explains to us the major significance of the miracle: God the Father gave us his only begotten Son to be multiplied as our bread for eternal life. (Jn 6:33). “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If you eat this bread you will live forever. The bread that I shall give you is my flesh, which I give so that the world may live.”, says Jesus in John 6:51. “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life.” (Jn 6:54).
Jesus who blessed and multiplied bread and fish, transubstantiates wheat bread and grape wine into his body and blood in every validly celebrated Eucharist. Jesus simply asks to give bread and wine which he transubstantiates, through a validly ordained priest, when he says the last supper words: “THIS IS MY BODY; THIS IS MY BLOOD.” Every single holy host is Jesus, soul and divinity. That means, he multiplies himself to satisfy our spiritual hunger.
The miracle of the Eucharist challenges us to share our blessings so that God may multiply them to satisfy all. Jesus who shares himself with us is blessed with universal kingship, with over two billion followers and with glory in heaven.
Some people remain poor because they do not share their blessings with the needy. Remember the widow of Zarephath (1Kgs 17:8-24). During the famine, she had only a handful of flour for just one meal, which she would eat with her son and then die of starvation. But when she shared it with prophet Elijah, the flour was multiplied constantly until the famine ended. Elijah blessed her also with the raising of her dead son! Had she refused to share with the needy man of God, most probably she and her son would have died of famine. That is why Paul concludes saying:
“The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Cor 9:6). Do not rely on what you have but on what God can do with what you have. You will never know how much you can get until you give. So, let us always share with the needy.