Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018
Dearly Beloved, Grace and peace to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in his great love and mercy has bought all of us together into his presence that we may come to share in this great mystery that we have as followers of Christ. May he be praised for ever and ever. Amen.
Dearly beloved, we have these two great miracles for our reflection this morning. These are popular stories given within every circle B in the liturgical year. What I want us to consider in our reflection this morning is something which may be minor as against the significance of these two miracles. I am a bit reluctant though but I still want to push forward with it. Common to these two miracles is what I wish to call Divine Knowledge.
This knowledge is one of the seven gifts of the HOLY SPIRIT. The Spirit enables this gift so that we may be able to ascend in faith to what God has revealed. By your confirmation, you all have access to such knowledge and you can apply it to countless situations. God choses the how and the manner he reveals his will to you in every situation you find yourself. He can reveal directly through your spirit; you can receive from the readings on a Sunday like this or through the homily. It can come by your personal reading and meditation on the word of God. Our two passages concerning the multiplication of loaves demonstrate this kind of divine knowledge; on the part of Elisha in the first reading and “Jesus” in the Gospel. Just look at it again…..,
When the servant objected to the instructions of Elisha in these words …
"How can I set this before a hundred people?"
Elisha insisted, "Give it to the people to eat."
"For thus says the LORD,
'They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'"
And when they had eaten, there was some left over,
as the LORD had said.
Turn now to the gospel and look at that account.
When Jesus raised his eyes
and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip,
"Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
"Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little."
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?"
The settings for both miracles presented a problem that required immediate solutions. However, the solution prescribed was impractical and impossible in human terms. Elisha had knowledge of what God had said, from the first reading. Jesus, being God, had knowledge of what he was planning to do. The point is not just knowing what God has said concerning a situation at hand, but whether you have the faith to act on what he is suggesting to you, especially if it is particularly difficult and impossible- looking at the circumstances and the resources available.
Like these servants in the first reading and the disciples in the gospels, we tend to project God into our confined and limited perspectives. Our mistake is always trying to measure our inabilities and limited resources as the ideal. The problem with these servants of Elisha and the disciples of Christ was not the small number of loaves, but their inability to see beyond the loaves and focus in faith on God who is Almighty. The key lesson here is for us to learn to approach life issues not on the basis of what science and technology says is possible and impossible but rather, what God in His infinite power can accomplish within us. In the words of St. Paul 20 Now to him (God) who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)
We need to also understand that obedience was key in these two miracles. Even when it was unreasonable for these servants and apostles to act, they acted anyway. I do not know your current situation from which God is giving you this message to go and act in faith regardless of all the unfavorable circumstances. It is in obedience that the miracle you need will come.
At times, we give so many excuses as to why we can’t do this or that. Today’s readings demonstrate to you the need to learn to measure your life, your work, the challenges and difficulties that confront you, not in terms of your personal resources, but rather by the greatness and immense power of the God you serve.
Dearly Beloved, permit me to comment briefly on the second reading, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I believe the ultimate divine knowledge is what we have been looking at in this book, namely from chapter one, that the eternal father from the very foundation of the world, had a plan and purpose to choose us to be His own. Then from chapter two, we learned last week that Christ, by his death, has abolished the enmity that has always existed making us have direct access to the father. In chapter three Paul ends with a Prayer, thanking the God of Grace and Mercy for the unique role given him to be the one to announce a great revelation which has always been hidden in God. Even though he was in prison he had every reason to be grateful and thankful to God for such an opportunity among his people.
Today, we turn to chapter four. From Chapter four to six, Paul shifts gears from what we should believe to how we should live and conduct ourselves in relation to the great revelation that is the mystery of God. It’s all about how the gospel message should challenge and change us to the core. The first challenge comes in these words:.
Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
Sad to say, that when we have not worked so hard for something, we do not place much value in it. If only we would understand that we could never have found our way, no matter how hard we tried to obtain any of these graces he speaks of, we will be humbled and appreciate with everything we hold dear. Paul’s admonition is that there is a standard set for us to live as a new family of God. Your life and how you live it is not as you please or choose. The standard is set and you have to meet it. It’s been a sad weekend for many of us in the Catholic world considering the circumstances to the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick apparently he has not lived up to the worthiness of his calling; however, we should not be too quick to judge or condemn him. Find time to yourself and ask whether you are living worthily to the calling you have received. Are you even able to define clearly what this calling is and all that it entails? So it is with all political and social leaders. The individual does not set the standard to live by. The standard is set by the office itself. If you want the office, you live by the standard. In the same way, choosing to follow Christ requires you to live and conform to certain standards.
Sorry to say at times that we do not know because we do not read. We do not read because we do not have time. We do not have time because we are preoccupied with more important things. We occupy ourselves with seemingly more important things to the extent that we are always working ourselves out without much productivity. All because we lack the divine knowledge that encourages us to look at life from God’s perspective and not our limited and confined perspectives.