Gospel Reflection for 17th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – July 26th 2015
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee or of Tiberias and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.
This scene of the loaves and the fish is something like an outdoor prayer service. Or like the first open air Mass! Jesus feeds in the ordinary among the people. And is doing the same since with the fragments.
God is intimately involved in our lives, feeding and teaching. Bread from heaven means teaching and feeding from heaven.
Three big lessons here: you are worthwhile in God’s eyes, always. Everyone is fed. We approach the bread of life not because we are saints, but because we need it. I really wonder should anything keep us from this table if we are doing our best to live a good life.
Our offering is worth it. 5 loaves and 2 fish of the poorest type. The leftovers on the shelf, the sardines only the poor ate: the boy had no idea of where his offering would lead. We never know where love will bear fruit.
God is with us in the ordinary – the God of the table not the temple. Where we are in life, he finds us, and feeds us most when we are most empty. We have blocked people from the table of God for too long.
And will feed us always – more than enough love in the heart of God for all. The meal of today has lasted, and the Eucharist is the central prayer and activity of the church. We minister the bread of life now to each other.
What happens at Mass – we meet the Lord Jesus, in his death and resurrection – each Mass is our entering into this mystery of prayer and love for the world. Of love in action from God, and service of his people through all of us who gather together in friendship with him.
Donal Neary SJ