July 17, 2021

O. T XVII (July 25, 2021 Sunday homily)

OT XVII [B] Sunday (July 25) Eight-minute homily in one page

Introduction: Today’s readings invite us to become humble instruments in God’s hands by sharing our blessings with our needy brothers and sisters. They focus on hunger and food and about how we can satisfy the deeper hunger of our life. They remind us that if we and our country are blessed with abundant food supply, we need to share it with the hungry people and poor countries. Once physical hungers are satisfied, then we are challenged to satisfy the deeper hungers, for love, mercy, forgiveness, companionship, peace, and fulfillment.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading tells us how the prophet Elisha, by invoking God’s power, fed one hundred men with twenty barley loaves. Elisha relied not on what he had but on what God would do with what the Prophet had received as a gift.  This miracle foreshadows the Gospel account of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the pursuing crowd seeking the Master. Today’s Responsorial Psalm tells us that it is “the hand of the Lord that feeds us,” and that it is God who “answers all our needs.” In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians that Jesus united the Jews and the Gentiles by bringing them together as Christians in one Faith by means of one Baptism, enabling them to become one by eating Jesus’ Body. Hence, they have to live together, helping each other by sharing their blessings. Paul urges us to become communities of sharing Christians. In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand people, using five barley loaves and two fish offered by a boy in the crowd through the apostles, is associated with the Holy Eucharist early in the Church’s tradition. The people immediately interpreted the miracle, giving Jesus two Messianic titles: “The prophet” and “the one who is to come.” This miracle teaches us that God works marvels through ordinary people. Elisha’s servant and Jesus’ disciples distributed the bread provided by God through generous people who were willing to share their food with the hungry. Thus, God meets the needs of people through the good will and services provided by members of His community.   The Gospel story teaches that Jesus meets the most basic human need, namely hunger, with generosity and compassion. Today’s readings also tell us that God really cares about His people, and that He provides more than enough for everybody. Studies show that the world today produces enough food grains to provide every human being on the planet with 3,600 calories a day, not counting such foods as tuber crops, vegetables, beans, nuts, fruits, meats, and fish. Hence, let us pray and work for better social justice in all communities and countries.

Life messages: A challenge to generous sharing: As Christians we need to commit ourselves to share and to work with God in communicating His compassion to all as the early Christians did. God always blesses those who share their blessings, time, and talents with loving commitment. We can begin our own humble efforts at “sharing” right in our parish by participating in the works of charity done by organizations like St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Knights of Columbus etc. Once physical hungers are satisfied, then we are challenged to satisfy the deeper hungers, for love, mercy, forgiveness, companionship, peace, and fulfillment.

O.T. XVII [B] (July 25): 2Kgs 4:42-44, Eph 4:1-6, John 6:1-15

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Poverty and hunger in the midst wealth and prosperity: In the Asian, African, and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty.” Every year 15 million children die of hunger. The Indian subcontinent has nearly half the world’s hungry people. Africa and the rest of Asia together have approximately 40%, and the remaining hungry people are found in Latin America and other parts of the world. Nearly one in four people, 1.3 billion – a majority of humanity – live on less than $1 per day while the world’s 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world’s people. There are three reasons for this situation: 1) The unwillingness of the rich people and wealthy countries to share their blessings with poor and the needy. 2) The unjust distribution of wealth, enabling the rich to become richer and let the poor to get poorer. 3) The exorbitant military spending of rich and poor nations. Most countries spend more than half their national income for the military. For example, the U.S. spends 54% of its income for the military while allotting only 6% for education, 6% for housing and 3% for social security and unemployment benefits. Annual military expense of the U. S. for 2014-15 was $581 billion and, for the same time-period, that of China was $129 billion and that of Russia was $70 billion. We must remember that for the price of one cruise missile ($1.41 million), a school full of hungry children could eat lunch every day for 5 years. 100 million deaths could be prevented for the price of ten Stealth bombers, or what the world spends on its military in two days. (Each stealth bomber costs $2.1 billion). Although the food in the world should suffice to feed God’s children, it will never suffice to fill the greed of men. By describing how Jesus miraculously fed five thousand people using the sacrificial sharing of his lunch by a boy, today’s Gospel challenges us to plan what we can do to feed the hungry in the world around us by changing the way we live, personally and as a community. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: “No my son, the pigs of my village don’t pray before meals!” Monsignor Arthur Tonne has a funny story on today’s Gospel lesson. A village farmer stopped at a restaurant in the nearby town and sat near a group of young fellows who were acting up, shouting at the cook and heckling the waitress. When his meal was set before him the old farmer bowed his head to offer a prayer. One of the smart-alecks thought he would have some fun with the old farmer. So he shouted in a loud voice that could be heard by everyone, “Hey, Pop, does everyone do this where you come from?” Calmly the old man turned towards the lad with an innocent smile and replied in an equally loud voice: “No son, our pigs don’t.” Today’s Gospel tells us that, before feeding the five thousand, Jesus took the loaves of bread, gave thanks (to God His Father) and distributed them. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#3: A bag of rice to share:   From her personal experience, Mother Teresa relates a story demonstrating the generosity of the poor, rising from their personal experience of hunger and poverty, as contrasting with the rich who have had no such experience to teach them.   Learning of a poor Hindu family in Calcutta who had been starving for many days, Mother Theresa visited them and brought a big parcel of rice to the mother.  She was surprised to see how the mother divided the rice into two equal portions and went out with one bundle to give it to her Moslem neighbor.  When she returned, Mother Theresa asked her why she had done such a generous deed.  The woman replied: “My family can manage with half the rice in this bag.  My neighbor’s family has several children and they are also starving.”   Today’s Gospel tells the story of a small boy who showed this same kind of generosity.  By sharing his small lunch (which consisted of five barley loaves and two dried fish), he became the instrument in Jesus’ working of a miracle that fed thousands. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 4: “Me … go into a Protestant church? That would be a sin!” Back in 1950, before the Second Vatican Council had urged Catholics to have friendlier relations with their separated brothers of other Churches, Catholics were regularly reminded that they should not attend non-Catholic worship except when some duty required it. That year, Douglas Woodruff, the brilliant and witty columnist of the famous English Catholic journal, The Tablet, told the story of a robber who had lately been arrested for taking money from the poor-box of Westminster Cathedral. (This is the Cathedral Church of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, located in London). When the judge questioned him, the “perpetrator” admitted that he had also stolen from the poor-boxes of several other London Churches. He ticked off a whole list of them. “These are all Catholic Churches,” said the judge, puzzled. “How does it happen that you didn’t rob the poor-boxes in any Protestant churches?” The thief bridled. “Me … go into a Protestant church? That would be a sin! I’m a good Catholic, I am!” — St. Paul certainly did emphasize unity in the Faith: “There is one Lord one Faith, one Baptism” (Eph 4:6). But something was out of kilter in the interpretation put on Christian unity by this staunch Catholic burglar! — Father Robert F. McNamara. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction:  Today’s readings invite us to become humble instruments in God’s hands by sharing our blessings with our needy brothers and sisters. Miracles can happen through our hands when we collect and distribute to the needy the food destined for all by our generous God. Today’s readings also remind us that if we have been blessed with an abundance of earthly bread, or with the technical capabilities needed to produce such an abundance, then these gifts are for sharing with the hungry. When physical hungers are satisfied, then we are challenged to satisfy the deeper hungers — for love, mercy, forgiveness, companionship, peace, and fulfillment. The first reading tells us how the prophet Elisha, by invoking God’s power, fed one hundred men with twenty barley loaves.  This miracle foreshadows the Gospel account of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the hungry crowd. The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145) has us sing: “The hand of the Lord feeds us; God answers all our needs. The middle verse selected for today affirms, “The eyes of all look hopefully to You, and You give them their food in due season; You open Your Hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing”  In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians that Jesus united the Jews and the Gentiles, bringing them together as Christians in “one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all Who is above all and through all and in all.” Hence, he urges them to keep this unity intact as ”one body and one spirit” by living as true Christians, “bearing with one another through love,” in humility, gentleness, patience and peace. If we become such a community, nobody will go hungry, and God will meet the needs of people through the services provided by members of our community.  The miraculous feeding of the five thousand people by Jesus, with five barley loaves and two fish, as described in today’s Gospel, is associated in Church tradition with the Holy Eucharist. John’s version of the miracle clearly heightens the Eucharistic allusions when we read it along with the miraculous feeding of 100 men by the prophet Elisha in today’s first reading. But unlike Elisha, Jesus Himself assumed the Divine role, feeding the people with eschatological plenty. The reaction of the people was immediate and unanimous; they interpreted the miracle as a messianic sign and gave Jesus two Messianic titles: “The prophet” and “the one who is to come.” This miracle teaches us that God works marvels through ordinary people. Elisha’s servant and Jesus’ disciples distributed the bread, provided by God. Thus, God meets the needs of the people through the services provided by the members of His community.

First reading, 2 Kings 4:42-44 explained: The first reading, taken from the Second Book of Kings, prepares us for today’s Gospel which describes the miraculous feeding of more than five thousand people by Jesus, using a boy’s gift of five barley loaves and two dried fish. Acting through the prophet Elisha, God fed about 100 people with 20 barley loaves. Both incidents tell us that God works marvels through ordinary people and meets the needs of people through the services provided by members of the community.  The Fathers of the Church recognized this miraculous feeding of Elisha as a type of, and prelude for, Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes in today’s Gospel, an event that itself foreshadows Jesus’ Self-Gift in the Eucharist which continues to nourish believers. The Elisha story looks back to Moses, the prophet who fed God’s people in the wilderness (see Exodus 16). Moses prophesied that God would send a prophet like him (see Deuteronomy18:15-19). The crowd in today’s Gospel, witnessing His miracle, identified Jesus as that prophet. (Scott Hann). The paired readings challenge the Church to continue Elisha’s and Jesus’ tradition by becoming, with His power, a provider and multiplier of bread for the poor.

Second Reading, Ephesians 4:1-6 explained: St. Paul, in prison, reminds the Ephesians that Jesus united the Jews and the Gentiles, bringing them together as Christians in one Faith and one Baptism. Hence, he advises them to keep this unity intact as one body and one spirit by living as true Christians “bearing with one another in love,” with humility, gentleness, patience and peace. At present, we are the community that Paul describes. We are the ones called to feed the hungry today. As members of the body of Christ, we need to remember that miracles can happen through our prayers, our donations, and our hands when we help Him to distribute to the hungry the food destined for all by our generous God. In this Eucharist, we are made one Body with the Lord, as we hear in today’s Epistle.


Gospel exegesis:
 The context: Jesus’ withdrawals into the wilderness were probably intended to provide Jesus and the apostles with periods of rest, reflection, and extended private teaching. In addition, withdrawal might have allowed them to avoid danger from those hostile to Jesus, particularly after the execution of John the Baptist.  Today’s Gospel shows us one such incident. Here, we see Jesus trying, in vain, to withdraw with the apostles from the crowds at Capernaum by sailing to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus stepped ashore near a remote village called Bethsaida Julius, where the River Jordan flows into the north end of the Sea of Galilee but faced the large crowd which had pursued them around the Sea on foot. Jesus’ immediate reaction was one of deep compassion. Near the place where they had landed, there was a small grassy plain, and there the Master began to heal the sick among them and to teach them at length.  This was the scene of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand as described in today’s Gospel.

A great miracle before a multitude: The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is found in all four Gospels, although the context and emphasis vary.  This is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that is told in all the Gospels, a fact that speaks of its importance to the early Church. Compare Mk 6:35-44 with Mt 14:13-21, Lk 9:12-17, and Jn 6:1-14. Matthew says that there were about 5,000 men, not including women and children. This miraculous feeding in the deserted place had precedents: Moses, Elijah, and Elisha had each fed people without resources.  The present miracle resembles particularly the one performed by Elisha (2 Kgs 4:42-44).  In both cases, unlike the manna in the desert, there were leftovers, for everyone there ate, and had enough and more than enough to be filled.  This miracle, then, is greater than the manna of the Exodus.  The Gospel story should be treated as a witness to the power of God and an implicit declaration of Jesus’ Divinity. The miracle also shows how, to this day, Jesus empowers believers to continue Jesus’ works of compassion. We may regard the incident both as a miracle of Divine providence and also as a Messianic sign in which Jesus multiplied loaves and fish in order to feed the hungry listeners. The lesson for every Christian is that no matter how impossible his or her assignments may seem, with Divine help they can be done because, “nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk 1:37). St. Augustine reflects on this miracle that is meant to lead the human mind through visible things to the perception of the Divine: “Christ did what God does. Just as God multiplies a few seeds into a whole field of wheat, so Christ multiplies the five loaves in His hands – for there is power in the hands of Christ. Those five loaves were like seeds, not because they were cast on the earth but because they were multiplied by the One Who made the earth. This miracle was presented to our senses to stimulate our minds; it was put before our eyes in order to engage our understanding and so make us marvel at the God we do not see because of His works which we do see.”

A Messianic sign or a miracle of generous sharing? The traditional teaching of the Church is that Jesus literally multiplied the bread and fish to feed his hungry listeners. At the beginning of this century in his classic book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus, Schweitzer suggested that what we have here is a “sacrament” rather than a full meal. All the people received was the merest crumb of food, and yet, somehow, with Jesus present among them, it was enough. That, however, does not explain the baskets full of leftovers from the five loaves and two fish. A few Bible scholars even suggest that the “miracle” may be interpreted also as Jesus’ success in getting a group of selfish people to share their personal provisions with others. According to this interpretation, it appears strange and unnatural that the crowd had made this nine-mile-long expedition to such a desolate village without taking anything to eat. When people set out on a journey, they usually took their food with them in a small basket called a kophinah or in a bigger wicker basket.  But if they had done so in this case, each one might have been unwilling to share what he had brought with others.  If such were the case, Jesus might have deliberately accepted the five loaves and fish from the little boy in order to set a good example for the crowd.  Moved by this example of generosity, the crowd might have done the same: thus, there could have been enough for all.  This view was propounded by the famous preacher-novelist Lloyd C. Douglas, author of The Robe. This rather fanciful explanation may still be considered a “miracle”: it might show that how the example of the boy responding to Jesus “miraculously” turned a crowd of selfish men and women into a fellowship of generous sharers.

It does, however, militate against the Divinity of Jesus, True God and True Man. For it is the literal interpretation of the miracle which makes the miracle a messianic sign with Eucharistic reference, points to the Divinity of Christ and offers an example of God’s love for us, expressed in superabundant generosity.

A symbol of the Eucharist: No Bible scholar doubts that all six bread miracles in the Gospels are about the Eucharist. The multiplication of the loaves is the only miracle from Jesus’ public ministry narrated in all four Gospels with Eucharistic overtones. The early Christian community saw this event as anticipating the Eucharist. John uses this story in his Gospel to introduce Jesus’ profound and extended reflection on the Eucharist and the Bread of Life. The Cycle B lectionary has selected portions from John chapter 6 for five Sundays to remind us of Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist. The Eucharistic coloring of the multiplication of bread is clear in Jesus’ blessing, breaking, and giving the loaves. Thus, the miracle itself becomes a symbol of the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity. The sharing of the broken bread is a sign of a community that is expected to share and provide in abundance for the needs of its members. Our word Eucharist is taken from the Greek language and describes an action: “to give thanks.” In the Eucharist we are fed by Jesus Himself, and we are sent to serve others. Matthew invites us to see this miracle as a type or symbol explaining the Sacrament’s meaning. The story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes recalls a particular aspect of the Mass. In this miracle, Jesus multiplies a young boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish. In the Offertory at Mass, we present the fruits of our labors, represented by bread and wine. These gifts, given to us first by God as grain and fruit, are returned to God in our offering of thanksgiving. God in turn transforms our gifts, making this bread and wine the very Body and Blood of Jesus. We also offer ourselves in this exchange, and we, too, are transformed by the Eucharist. This daily breaking of the bread also has eschatological associations: it is an anticipation of the Messianic Wedding Banquet. John’s description of this event anticipates the Messianic Wedding Banquet of Heaven, as the crowd sits down in rows to enjoy a great free meal. Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are anticipating this same Eternal Wedding Banquet of Heaven. The Church’s Eucharist today combines both the sacrificial and the eschatological associations. In the recent past, emphasis has been placed more on the sacrificial than on the eschatological aspect, but the imbalance is now being redressed.

Life messages: #1: “You give them something to eat.” The Gospel story teaches that Jesus meets the most basic human need, hunger, with generosity and compassion. Today’s readings also tell us that God really cares about His people and that there is enough and more than enough for everybody. Studies show that the world today produces enough food grains to provide every human being on the planet with 3,600 calories a day, not counting such foods as tuber crops, vegetables, beans, nuts, fruits, meats, and fish.  Over the past twenty-five years, food production has exceeded world population growth by about 16%. This means that there is no good reason for any human being in today’s world to go hungry. But even in a rich country like U.S.A., one child out of five grows up in poverty, three million people are homeless and 4000 unborn babies are aborted every day. “The problem in feeding the world’s hungry population lies with our political lack of will, our economic system biased in favor of the affluent, our militarism, and our tendency to blame the victims of social tragedies such as famine.  We all share responsibility for the fact that populations are undernourished. Therefore, it is necessary to arouse a sense of responsibility in individuals, especially among those more blessed with this world’s goods.” (Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra (1961) 157-58).

#2: We need to commit ourselves to share with others, and to work with God in communicating His compassion. It is too easy to blame God, too easy to blame governments, for these problems. It is also too easy see these things as other people’s problems. They are our problems as well. That is the meaning of the Eucharist we celebrate here today. In other words, as Christians we need to commit ourselves to share what we have with others, and to work with God in communicating His compassion to all. God is a caring Father, and He wants our co-operation with Him to be part of His caring for all of us, His children. That’s what the early Christians did, generously sharing what they had with the needy. They were convinced that everything they needed to experience a fulfilling life was already there, in the gifts and talents of the people around them. People of our time need to be encouraged to share, even when they think they have nothing to offer. Whatever we offer through Jesus will have a life-giving effect in those who receive it. We are shown two attitudes in the Gospel story: that of Philip and that of Andrew (Jn 6:7-9). Philip said, in effect:  “The situation is hopeless; nothing can be done.”  But Andrew’s attitude was: “I’ll see what I can do; and I will trust Jesus to do the rest.”  Let us have Andrew’s attitude.

#3: God blesses those who share their talents, with loving commitment. This is illustrated by Mother Teresa who went to serve the slum dwellers of Calcutta with just twenty cents in her pocket.  When she died forty-nine years later, God had turned those original twenty cents into eighty schools, three hundred mobile dispensaries, seventy leprosy clinics, thirty homes for the dying, thirty homes for abandoned children, and forty thousand volunteers from all over the world to help her. We can begin our own humble efforts at “sharing” right in our parish by participating in the works of charity done by organizations like the St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Knights of Columbus and so many other volunteer groups. We may say, “I do not have enough money or talent to make any difference.”   But we need to remember that the small boy in the story had only five barley loaves and two dried fish.  The Bible guarantees that every believer has at least one gift from the Holy Spirit. This is our one “tiny fish”. Perhaps our “fish” is not money, but a talent or an ability that God has given us. We all have something. If you have never trusted God with your time, or your talent, or your treasure…all your resources…this is the time to start. Let us offer ourselves and whatever we have to God saying, “Here is what I am and what I have Lord; use me; use it.” And He will bless us and bless our offering, amplifying it beyond our expectations. When we give what we have to God, and we ask Him to bless it — that tis when the miracle happens. We, too, can perform wonders in our own time and place, by practicing the four “Eucharistic verbs” of Jesus: Take humbly and generously what God gives us, bless it by offering it to others in God’s love, break it off from our own needs and interests for the sake of others, give it away with joy-filled gratitude to God who has blessed us with so much. We are called by Christ to become the Eucharist we receive at this altar, giving thanks for what we have received by sharing those gifts — our talents, our riches, ourselves – so that He can use them and us to work miracles in creating communities of joyful Faith

JOKES OF THE WEEK: 1) “What would Jesus do?” I heard about a little boy who got into a heated argument with his sister about who was going to get the last brownie. Their mother overheard this discussion and came in to try to resolve the fuss. Her two children, both extremely upset, each wanted that last brownie. So sensing the opportunity to teach a deeper spiritual truth, the mother looked at her children and asked that very relevant question…”What would Jesus do?” Well, that little boy immediately answered, “That’s easy. Jesus would just break that brownie and make 5,000 more!”

2) “What’s the expiration date on it?” It’s like the story of a little girl in Milwaukee who had had her tonsils out and was staying with her grandmother while her parents were at work. One day she complained of a sore throat.
“I have some holy water from Lourdes that I got from my mother,” the grandmother said. “Should I put some on your neck?” The girl thought for a moment and then asked, “What’s the expiration date on it?”

3) Sharing everything: A young man saw an elderly couple sitting down to lunch at McDonald’s. He noticed that they had ordered one meal, and an extra drink cup. As he watched, the gentleman carefully divided the hamburger in half, counted out the fries, one for him, one for her, until each had half of them. Then he poured half of the soft drink into the extra cup and set that in front of his wife. The old man then began to eat, and his wife sat watching, with her hands folded in her lap. The young man decided to ask if they would allow him to purchase another meal for them so that they didn’t have to split theirs. The old gentleman said, “Oh no. We’ve been married 50 years, and everything has always been and will always be shared, 50/50.” The young man then asked the wife if she was not going to eat, and she replied, “It’s his turn with the teeth.”

4) Grace at dinner party: A woman was hosting a dinner party and at the table she asked her six-year-old daughter to say grace. “But I wouldn’t know what to say,” the girl responded. “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” replied the mother. The little girl nodded, bowed her head, and prayed, “Dear Lord, why in the world did I invite all these people to dinner?”

WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

Catholic Youth: www.catholicyouth.freeservers.com

Disciples Now: www.disciplesnow.com

RealfaithTV.com – for Catholic teens: www.realfaithtv.com/index.asp

You Magazine: Catholic Youth Online: www.youmagazine.com

Read Catholic Digest magazine on line: http://www.catholicdigest.com/

Dr. Bryant Pitro’s commentary on Cycle B Sunday Scripture: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-b

Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs:  (Type https://sundayprep.org  in the topmost Address bar in the YouTube or Google or MSN website and press the enter button).

Fr. Spitzer’s teaching : https://youtu.be/I39lzV77DUk (Why Trust the Catholic Church (in Good Times and in Bad)?

19- Additional anecdotes:

1) That’s a miracle. Rembrandt could take a two-dollar canvas, paint a picture on it, and make it a priceless masterpiece. That is art. John D. Rockefeller could take a worthless check, sign his name to it, and make it worth a million dollars. That’s capital. A mechanic can take a piece of scrap metal and bend and shape it into a $500 automobile part. That is skill. — Jesus Christ can take the commonest bread and dried fish, bless and multiply it, making a banquet for 5,000! That is a miracle. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “I wish I could be a brother like that:” Paul had received a special pre-Christmas gift from his rich brother. It was a beautiful new car – fully loaded and ready to go. On Christmas Eve, when Paul came out of his office, a street kid was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it. “Is this your car, mister?” the kid asked. When he replied that it was and that his brother had given it to him for Christmas, the boy said, “You mean your brother gave it to you, and it didn’t cost you anything? Free? For nothing? Gosh, I wish…” The boy hesitated, and Paul knew what he was about to say. He had heard it many times over the past few days. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the boy said shocked Paul. ”I wish“, the boy said, “I wish I could be a brother like that.” — We can be a brother like that or a sister like that. All it takes is that we offer ourselves and what we have, to God. All it takes is that we cease to worry about how little we have and begin instead to think about what it is that we can offer to others, as the little boy in today’s Gospel story did by sharing his bread and fish to Jesus Who fed the multitude. (“Chicken Soup” series). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) “That’s no miracle! I could do that!” I heard about a young preacher who was going to preach his very first sermon, and he was going to preach from the text that I will be preaching on this morning. As he introduced it he said, “I want to talk to you about how Jesus fed five men with five thousand loaves of bread and two thousand fish.” Well, there was a man in the Church that loved to intimidate preachers, and he jumped up and said, “Great day, that’s no miracle, I could do that!” This young preacher was just shattered and couldn’t even preach the sermon. Well, the next Sunday, he started over with the same sermon and announced it, this time correctly: “I want to talk to you today about how Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish.” He looked down at the critical Church member and said, “I guess you could do that too?” The man said, “Great day, I could do that easy!” The preacher said, “How?” He said, “With what was left over from last Sunday!” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) “May I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Paul Harvey told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered she had certain instructions for the little boy: “Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, today, so don’t even ask.” She put him in the cart and off they went up and down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. Seeing all those chocolate chip cookies was just too much and he said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Mom said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any, that’s all.” They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items she had to back track and they ended up in the cookie aisle again. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down and be quiet.” Finally, they arrived at the checkout. The little boy sensed that the end was in sight, that this might be his last chance. He stood up on the seat and shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Everybody in the checkout lines laughed and applauded. And that little boy got his chocolate chip cookies. And not just one package. The other shoppers were so moved by the little boy’s outburst that he and his mother went home with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies. (http://www.onelist.com/subscribe.cgi/Sermon_Fodder) That little boy experienced much the same thing as the boy in the passage for the message this morning. They both experienced an unexpected miracle. Let’s look at the passage and then you’ll see what I mean. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) “Lord, what a cow!” An old prospector came into a saloon in frontier California and ordered a glass of milk with a shot of whiskey in it. While the bartender was fixing his drink, the old prospector wandered over to speak to some of his friends. Before he came back, a man came in wearing a black threadbare coat. He walked up to the bartender and timidly said, “Sir, I’m a poor traveling Methodist circuit rider. I’ve just made it across the desert. I’m bone dry. Could you let me have that foamy glass of milk I see you’ve just poured?” “Take the milk,” said the bartender with a twinkle in his eye. “We’re glad to have you in our town. Take that glass of milk and drink it up.” The preacher drank that milk real slow savoring every drop. Then he looked up towards the ceiling and with a smile on his face he declared, “Lord, what a cow!” — I hope nobody’s offended by that little piece of humor, but this morning we want to talk for a few moments about the bounteous goodness of God. And we want to say, “Lord, what a bounteous God!” Our text tells the story of the feeding of the five thousand. It is a marvelous story of God’s provision for human need. The focus is on bread, but the lesson is about all our needs. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) When they had the security of bread for tomorrow they slept like babies: Immediately after fighting had stopped in World War II, American soldiers gathered up many hungry and homeless children and placed them in tent cities. Many of them were malnourished and in need of medical care. The soldiers shared their bread with them. However, the soldiers noticed the children were afraid to go to sleep at night. One of the soldiers tried an experiment after dinner–he gave the children a piece of bread to hold. The result was astounding. When they had the security of bread for tomorrow they slept like babies. Security took away fear. — Carl Jung, one of our century’s greatest psychiatrists, has said that the central neurosis of our age is emptiness. Humanity’s problem is a spiritual problem. In this story, we see the answer Jesus gives to that need. Carlo Caretto in his outstanding book, The God Who Comes, writes “Jesus is Life, and He knows His creature can do nothing without Him; He knows the child would die of hunger without bread. But our bread is God Himself, and God gives Himself to us as Food in Holy Communion.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) 300-calorie-a-day diet : Some years ago I had a friend who was on a 300-calorie-a-day diet under a doctor’s supervision. 300 calories! That boggles the mind! I inhale 300 calories just smelling the aroma of a good pizza. But my friend on the three-hundred-calorie-a-day diet lost sixty pounds, and as a result reached his near-ideal weight in a very short time. But one cannot subsist indefinitely on a 300-calorie-a-day- diet. Sooner or later there must come and end to the dieting, for starving oneself in this manner is highly dangerous. In like manner, to starve oneself spiritually can be equally dangerous. Perhaps that is what Jesus was getting at when He spoke those strange words, “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.” (Jn 6:35) . Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) God’s extravagance: Consider our universe. Did you know that if you could bore a hole in the sun and somehow put in 1.2 million earths, you would still have space left over for 4.3 million moons. The sun is 865,000 miles in diameter and 93 million miles away from earth. Pluto, still in our solar system but in the opposite direction, is 2.7 billion miles away. And there are billions of such solar systems. What are they there for? As best we can determine, they have no other purpose than to give us light, and so joy, in the darkness and, perhaps, to serve as a challenge to humanity to keep moving ever outward and upward. Galileo once put it this way, “The sun, which has all those planets revolving about it and depending on it for their orderly functions, can ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the world to do.” — And it doesn’t! God has brought into being a magnificent creation with the sole purpose of providing for His children’s needs. Isn’t that mind-boggling? But why such extravagance, why such bounty, why such seeming waste? We find a case of Christ’s extravagance in today’s Gospel in feeding 5000 people. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “Isn’t this wonderful?” Jesus wants to prepare us for the extravagance of Heaven by providing the miraculous feeding described in today’s Gospel. It reminds me of two fellows newly arrived in Heaven who were walking the golden streets of God’s celestial realm. There was more beauty and more splendor and more joy there than they had ever dreamed imaginable. One of them turned to the other and said, “Isn’t this wonderful?” The other replied, “Yes, and to think we could have gotten here ten years sooner if we hadn’t eaten all that oat bran.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) Waste! Waste! Waste! A test in a western state showed that the average family throws away between eighty and one hundred dollars’ worth of food annually. Unused food thrown away is waste. Multiply that by all the households in America plus all the unused food thrown away by chain stores, nursing homes, hospitals, hotels, and restaurants, all in the name of public health, and we are reversing the miracle of the five thousand. — Waste! Waste! Waste! Another thing to consider is that we have regulated the farmers to produce less and less in this country. Surely there is a way to exercise more effective stewardship in these matters. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) Free-Food Tree: Appalled at the wastefulness of their students, two elementary school teachers in Santa Cruz, California, planted a young sapling on the school’s campus and named it the Free-Food Tree. Rather than discard their uneaten or unwanted sandwiches, the children were encouraged to place them under the tree so that students who had lost their lunch or could not afford one could help themselves. Some children began to bring an extra sandwich from home so that they’d have one to put under the Free-Food Tree. Eventually, the supply of donated food was sufficient to nourish all the school’s hungry youngsters with enough left over to offer to the homeless who lived in the city park near the school. — In addition to learning not to waste their share of this world’s goods, the students had their first encounter with hunger and began to understand what they could do to alleviate it, a valuable lesson indeed, considering the fact that every hour 1,500 of this world’s children die of hunger or hunger-related causes. (Celebration; also found in Sanchez files). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) The victims (martyrs) of the Great Hunger: With the failure of the potato crop in 1845, Ireland was sent into a downward spiral of starvation, poverty, disease, and death. Subsequent annual crop failures brought even more suffering. As the Great Hunger progressed, more and more Irish were made destitute and homeless, without any means of obtaining food. The truly sad truth about the Great Hunger is that the British continued to ship food from Ireland while millions of Irish starved. In March of 1849, over six hundred starving people made their way into the town of Louisburgh in search of food through outdoor relief or a ticket that would admit them to the workhouse. They met with the Receiving Officer at the Louisburgh workhouse. He told them he had no authority to grant them food or a ticket, but they could appeal to two of the Board of Guardians, Colonel Hograve and Mr. Lecky, who were meeting the next day at Delphi Lodge, located twelve miles south of Louisburgh. The crowd spent the night in Louisburg. Weakened from their trip, many of the 600 men, women and children who slept in the streets that night died. The next day, five hundred of those that remained trudged through the mud and rain along a goat track in the direction of Delphi Lodge, crossing the Glankeen River at flood stage and through the mountain pass. Still more died of exhaustion along the way. They arrived wet and cold at Delphi Lodge the next afternoon. The Board of Guardian members were at lunch when the people arrived and amazingly, they could not be disturbed. The starving crowd was told to wait. A few more died of exhaustion while waiting. When they had finished their meal the crowd was advised to return to Louisburgh. Disappointed, the group headed back to Louisburgh over the same bleak and dangerous path they had just taken. It is unknown how many of this group of starving people met their death in the waters of Doolough. — Some call them the dead victims of the Great Hunger; others refer to them as martyrs. Hunger and poverty are the consequences of the selfishness of people. So the solution to this devastating problems lies with man alone. (Fr. Bobby). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.” One day, a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” “It was great, Dad.” “Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked. “Oh yeah,” said the son. “So, tell me, what you learned from the trip” asked the father. The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them.” The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.” (Fr. Bobby). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) That’s my onion! There was this rich lady who lived on her own and led an impeccable life as far as the externals of religion were concerned. She went to Mass daily, and found little or nothing to confess when she went to confession. Eventually she died and to her horror and surprise found that she had been assigned to hell. She complained bitterly explaining how she had lived a virtuous and utterly blameless life on earth. Satan inquired of Peter and was told there was no mistake. But Peter conceded that if she could think of one single act of kindness, heaven would be open to her. The woman returned saying: “One day,” she said, “as I was cooking the dinner a beggar came to the back door. He was hungry and I gave him an onion.” Peter checked and found that it was true and said to Satan. “We are going to lower the onion into your department at the end of a rope. Tell her to clasp it and then we’ll pull her up here.” Needless to say the woman grabbed the onion and suddenly her feet left the nether region. As she was being pulled up, some of her companions, seeing the opportunity of getting out with her, clung to her. “Let go, let go,” she shrieked, kicking out at them, “that’s my onion.” With these words, “That’s my onion,” the rope snapped and she fell back, with her onion, into the arms of Satan, who said to her, “That rope was strong enough to save both you and your brothers, but it was not strong enough to save you alone.” (James A. Feeban from Story Power; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Do it now! There was a rich man who complained to his friend thus: “The people do not like me. They say I am very stingy and greedy, but I have made my will. I have willed the entire property to a charitable institution. The friend replied, “Have you heard of the story of the pig and the cow? A pig came to the cow and complained: ‘People speak so well of you and your friendliness. It is true that you give milk. But they profit from me much more. They have meat and sausages of different types. Even my feet and hands they eat. Still nobody loves me as they love you. For everybody I am a pig, nothing more. Why?’ The cow reflected and said, ‘Perhaps it is because I give while I am alive; you give, or rather it is taken away, after you are dead!’” — Is it not folly to postpone the good we can do here and now for later?
(Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Together we can make it: Sadhu Sunder Singh and a friend were once travelling through the mountains of North India. Winter storms were howling around them, and soon they were caught in a blizzard, through which they battled with great difficulty. Presently, they saw a man lying by the roadside, apparently dead. The Sadhu wished to stay to give help, but his friend, protesting that the effort would be unavailing, passed on his way. Displaying the spirit of the good Samaritan, the Sadhu chaffed the hands and feet of the prostate man, and finally lifted him on his back and trudged painfully through the snow. The warmth of the man’s body, added to that of his own had a reviving and sustaining effect on the body. After a mile’s further progress, they found another body lying by the wayside. It was the Sadhu’s companion, frozen to death. He had not sufficient warmth alone to fight the storm. — Today’s Gospel teaches us to share our gifts with others. (Anthony Castle in Quotes and Anecdotes; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Feeding the poor: An old monk prayed many years for a vision from God to strengthen his Faith, but it never came. He had almost given up hope when, one day, a vision of Christ’s face appeared in his cell. The old monk was overjoyed. But then, right in the middle of the vision, the monastery bell rang. The ringing of the bell meant it was time to feed the poor who gathered daily at the monastery gate. How could he leave now? What should he do – stay with his Heavenly Visitor, or go to his duty of distributing help to the needy. If he failed to show up with food, the unfortunate people would leave quietly, thinking the monastery had nothing to give them that day. The old monk was torn between his earthly duty and his Heavenly vision. But, before the bell stopped ringing, the monk made his decision. With heavy heart, he went off to feed the poor. Nearly an hour later, the old monk returned to his room. When he opened the door, he could hardly believe his eyes. The room was filled with heavenly brightness. There stood Christ shining as the sun, smiling upon him with Divine tenderness. As the monk dropped to his knees in thanksgiving, the Vision said to him, “My son, had you not gone off to feed the poor, I would not have stayed.” (Bel San Louis in Stories of Life and Laughter; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Sharing: For the past few years I have had the privilege of accompanying a disabled children’s picnic to Lourdes. One of the days involves a trip to the mountains for a picnic with fun and games. Everybody is supplied with food and drink, which is packed in several large cardboard boxes. On my first trip, one of the groups discovered, when they got to the mountain, that they had left all their food and drink back in the hotel. There was no chance of getting sufficient refreshments locally, so there was only one obvious solution. Those of us with food and drink examined what we had, and selected one or two items which we gave to those without food and drink. As there were many groups involved, it so happened that those without anything ended up with more than they could eat, while all the rest of us were more than happy with what we had. (Jack McArdle in And that’s the Gospel Truth). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) “Separate checks, please!” Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952) was a Hungarian American playwright who wrote more than forty plays including, Liliom.  Liliom’s first movie version came out in 1935, directed by Fritz Lang. Later this play was produced as a Rogers and Hammerstein musical under the name Carousel (1944). Though Molnar settled down in New York after the success of Liliom, he spoke very little English. Molnar had many friends who were expatriate Hungarians. During one of their meetings at his residence, Molnar asked them about the English words and phrases they had first learned. Their answers included ‘Hello,’ ‘Goodbye,’ and ‘I love you.’ Then someone asked him about what he learned first after coming to America. Immediately with a mischievous smile on his face, he said. “Separate checks, please!” With us, more often than not, it is ‘separate checks, please.’ But with Jesus, everything was going to be on one check. That was why he asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” (John 6:5). Philip immediately calculated the cost of food to be bought for the people and thought it was outrageous. He was thinking in the line of ‘separate checks.’ But Andrew knew the mind of Jesus. He was willing to share what he had with others. But, he had nothing with him at that time. However, he found out that there was a boy who was willing to share what he had. Andrew brought the boy with his five loaves of bread and two fish to Jesus. Jesus took what the boy offered, gave thanks to the Heavenly Father, and distributed the bread and fish to the hungry people who numbered several thousand. It is alright to go for separate checks when we are equally blessed. But when others don’t have anything to support themselves, we have to offer to the Lord what we have. He will take what we give him and multiply it and give to needy people through us. Moreover, he will return some of it to us as he did during the multiplication of loaves. (Fr. Jose P CMI).L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 43) by Fr. Tony (akadavil@gmail.com)

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under CBCI or  Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

Intercessory prayers sent by Fr. Joseph Parekkatt 

PRIEST: God loves us and cares for us and we believe in God’s power to provide what we need. Filled with confidence and trust, we bring to Him all our needs.

+ For our Holy Father, our Bishops, Priests, and Religious: that they may be concerned about the members most in need in their communities and try to help them to the extent of their possibility. We pray to the Lord.

+ We pray for the hungry of every nation: for those who struggle to find enough food for their children; for those who are starving; for those who will today suffer for lack of food. We pray to the Lord.                      

+ For this our faith community: that the Lord may grant us the generosity to feed others in need and the grace to be compassionate. We pray to the Lord.

+ For each one of us: that we may imitate the generosity of that young boy and not hesitate to share what we have with those who are less fortunate than ourselves. We pray to the Lord.

+ We pray for those whose hungers are self-destructive: those who struggle with addiction, and for all who are struggling with habits of sin. We pray to the Lord.

+ For all mankind: that realizing how only God can satisfy their spiritual and material needs, they turn to Him and serve Him faithfully. We pray to the Lord.

PRIEST: Gracious God, you provide for us abundantly. Help us to live as people created in your image and to share our blessings with everyone and to care for the needy and suffering.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.   AMEN!   

breadandfish Jesus fees 5000

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