Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 25
As Faithful Children of God the Father and Brothers and Sisters of Jesus Christ, May We Reach Out with a Selfless Love and Charity to All Who Are in Most Need, Feeding One Another with the Same Love and Compassion Which God Feeds Each of Us:
“You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” – words which we read in today’s Responsorial Psalm.
As we look at the world in which we live today, I am sure that we can all agree that there are many kinds of hunger experienced by peoples of all different races, creeds, ethnicities and religious persuasions.
At first glance, one would normally think of physical hunger, for we see this in the faces of all those pictured in countries which are struggling with extreme poverty and sickness – the gaunt faces and bloated stomachs of small children – images which would touch even the hardest of hearts.
And this kind of hunger is very much alive even in developed, industrialized nations where, in a 2016 survey, almost 13% of all Americans were living in poverty and suffering from the effects of physical hunger. And this percentage is continually growing due to the economic climate in which many are living today – increased unemployment, foreclosures on homes, even an increase in homelessness.
Even in the United States, over 3½ million people, 39% of them children, currently experience homelessness each year. Sadly, 60% of all new homeless cases are single mothers with children. And all this is sadly right in our own “backyard”.
In approaching this particular issue of human suffering, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his June 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate [Charity in Truth] writes, “The right to food, like the right to water, has an important place within the pursuit of other rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life. It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination.”
The question that each one of us needs to ask ourselves is – “Are we, you and I, doing all that we can, with the gifts which God has given us, to help those who are much less fortunate than ourselves?”
Another hunger, which almost everyone experiences from time-to-time, is emotional – the need to feel emotionally satisfied, whether the satisfaction takes the form of feeling loved, feeling needed, feeling contented or happy in one’s job, feeling financially secure – to name only a few. Emotional hunger, and the satisfaction which feeds that hunger, can take many different forms, shapes and sizes.
The last hunger, and probably the most important one for people of faith, is spiritual – the desire, the need to be fed, the need to be nourished with God’s Truth – a Truth which feeds us with Divine Love, a Truth which feeds us with hope, a Truth which fills us with an everlasting joy.
In today’s Readings, we hear about God feeding His children. On the surface, we hear about loaves of bread and fish – physical sustenance for the body.
But there is a much deeper truth, a much deeper meaning behind these events. And, Saint Paul addresses it with his Letter to the Ephesians: “I…urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”
By virtue of our Baptism into the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are adopted into the family of God. And, as God the Father is our Father, and as Jesus, His Son, is our elder Brother, we are invited to become heirs of His Kingdom. And, as heirs, we are called to live the gift of faith, a gift which God has freely given us, by always staying focused on what is truly most important in our daily lives.
Imagine faith, which is a gift freely offered and freely given by God to His children as a present – gift wrapped and placed at our feet. We can either leave it there and ignore it – or we can pick it up, unwrap it and embrace what is inside.
Embracing this gift of faith, living this gift as our Lord invites us, and as our Church teaches us, nourishes us, sustains and strengthens us on our journey through this life – a life which has many wonderful peaks, but which also has many deep and unpleasant valleys.
And it is the grace which God gives us in living our faith which helps to sustain and strengthen us, especially when our journeys take us through some of our darkest valleys – some of the most difficult times in our lives.
In a small community in South Jersey, there was a bakery which created only rolls and loaves of bread. If you get there at the right time of the day, generally early afternoon, as soon as you open the front door to this bakery, the aroma of freshly baked bread fills the senses to such an extent, that you think you are gaining weight just by smelling the richness of the air which surrounds and permeates every cell of your body!
It is an aroma so delectable, that you can’t resist buying some of the freshly baked bread or rolls! It is the anticipation of eating this freshly baked, warm bread which gives you a feeling of pleasure and a longing for satisfaction in its consumption! And yet, this satisfaction is temporary, for it only feeds the needs of the body.
How much more so, then, does our soul need the same sort of satisfaction in its nourishment, not with a bread which feeds and satisfies our physical needs for but a few moments in time, but with a bread which nourishes and sustains the human spirit, the human soul for all eternity?
As we progress through the Readings for the next few Sundays, we will begin to understand the importance of this spiritual nourishment, the Bread of Life which becomes our true strength, the Bread of Life which we receive as Eucharist – which is the source and summit of our Christian life of faith, from which we are constantly nourished and fed with God’s Love and His Real and Living Presence within us, and from which all other Sacraments derive their true meaning in the life of the Church.
Remember the words of our psalmist today, “You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
In today’s Readings, Elisha fed one hundred people with twenty loaves and some corn, and Jesus fed over five thousand with just five loaves and two fish. And, in both instances, there were fragments left over!
The fragments remind us that the gift of God’s Love will never run dry. The gift of His grace will never run out for those who open their hearts and embrace the gifts He freely offers.
For those of us who choose to pick up these gifts and unwrap them, we are able to believe in God’s Fatherly Love and concern for His children, especially when we remember our Lord’s words given to us in Matthew’s Gospel, “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?”
In the feeding of the five thousand in today’s Gospel, Jesus is also telling us that He will feed us too. He will nourish us in all the ways we need to be fed. But He is also asking for OUR help.
By virtue of our baptismal call, we are each asked to become the extension of Christ to all those who are in need. We are each called to imitate the compassion and love which Christ gave, as an example for each of us to follow; for as Jesus once said to His disciples, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
In humility, may each of us, as faithful children of God the Father, and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, reach out with a selfless love and charity to all those who are in most need. As Jesus fed the multitude in today’s Gospel, may we also feed each other with the same selfless love and compassion which God feeds each of us.
And may everything we do in the Most Holy Name of Jesus Christ always begin with His inspiration, and always continue with His saving help, so that the saving work we do, for all our brothers and sisters in Christ, may always find its origin in Him, and through Him, reach its ultimate completion, all for the greater honor and glory of Almighty God!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16)
- “Elisha again said, ‘Give it to the people to eat, for thus says the LORD: ‘You will eat and have some left over.’’” (2 Kings 4:43bc)
- “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.’ So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.” (John 6:11-13)
- “I…urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
- “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6:38)
- “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:16-17a)
- “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
- “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (Matthew 10:8bc)
- “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:15)
Prayer for the Day
“Jesus, Loving Companion of Your children,Anonymous
You have extended Your friendship to all.
You opened Your arms without discrimination,
offering Your warmth and hope through Your Spirit,
and Your Merciful Love to those seeking comfort.
“Endow me with the virtue of such a friendship,
to know, love and trust all on an equal basis;
To share my friendship without prejudice,
and to be compassionate and charitable
towards those who are less fortunate.
“Fashion my heart to reflect Your qualities,
those befitting a loving and caring spirit.
Jesus, You showed me the way to true friendship;
Help me to be more like You in the world around me,
so that I may remain with You forever. Amen.”