Browsing Homilies

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Kgs 4:42-44 | Ps 145 | Eph 4:1-6 | Jn 6:1-15

From an early age, many of us are taught to be pragmatic people. We are taught that money is the only barrier to the toys, snacks, video games, and tablets we want. As we grow older, we begin to realize if our family was financially stable or not, often by comparing the kind of possessions that we have with the possessions of our friends’ families. In these moments, the power of money becomes engrained into our brain. Some of us were given opportunities to earn allowances by doing chores around the house. Others had the privilege of receiving a regular allowance from parents without any kind of chores, and plenty of us were expected to work hard around the house, and their compensation was simply, a roof over their heads! Every scenario here reinforces one central pillar of living in a capitalistic society: money decides everything.

In our gospel, Jesus and his disciples are surrounded by a large crowd of people. Many had heard of Jesus because of the signs and miracles he had been performing. After seeing this large crowd gather, Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Philip answered saying, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” Listen carefully to Jesus’ question once more, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He doesn’t ask how they will be able to afford this meal but asks about where they need to go to buy food. Philip saw an enormous challenge in front of him and immediately responded with how much money it would take to feed the crowd. Philip saw the economic burden, not the need in front of him.

Now, it’s a little unfair to point a finger at Philip without also looking internally at ourselves. He was just trying to be practical, and it’s very unlikely that Jesus Christ in the flesh, someone who was well known for performing miracles, would be asking you or I where we will feed a crowd. And sometimes we are legitimately unable to afford helping others.

Sometimes what we possess isn’t material. If we think of our grandparents, on this first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, what they often bring to our families is precisely the gift of gratuitousness. Their way of loving and pampering their grandchildren (to the point of spoiling them) may seem exaggerated to us, but exaggeration is only the measure of love.

All of us, regardless of our financial standing, can work to change the way we at least look at people in need. We can look to see the human person in front of us as a child of God, rather than seeing dollar signs. We can focus on the impact of our charity, not the burden of being generous. Don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t come as easily as you think it should. Remember, we have been learning the power of money from our earliest memories of lemonade stands to our First Communion money.

At the heart of Jesus’ ministry to those in need, was his commitment to encountering people. Jesus did not simply wave his hand and make all things new. Instead, he listened with the ear of his heart to those who were on the margins of society. When we encounter those with different life experiences than us, we begin to see the “other” as one of us. Imagine the impact society would have if everyone took a single hour this week to evaluate their finances and allocated a portion to those in need. I know how generous this community already is, and how all parishes are presented with several opportunities throughout the year to contribute some of our treasure to the mission of the Church. We can’t give to everything, but we can all do something. When we encounter people and give generously of ourselves, we follow in the very footsteps of Jesus himself.

His life is the prime example of how a person ought to live a life of love. His miracles and sign are given at no cost to himself and no cost to the recipient. Money should never dictate one’s ability to live lovingly. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons God became man and chose to be the poor son of a carpenter. Jesus’ loving action in our gospel feeds all who are present, and there is still food in excess: there’s too much, there’s leftovers! This is the love that our God offers to each of us: an overabundance that we could never exhaust.

Come, Holy Spirit, transform our hearts so that we may see every human being as a child of God, worthy of love and compassion.


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