With God’s help, we do our part
Pat Casey, St. John’s, Catholic Church, Darwin
The Lectionary we use recommends the texts of II Kings 4:42-44 and John 6:1-15 for this 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
In the first reading, Elisha, the man of God, receives 20 barley loaves made from first fruits and tells his steward to give it to the people. The servant objects, “How can I set this before 100 people?”
Elisha quotes the Lord, who says, “They shall eat and there shall be some left over.” When the people had eaten, there was some left over as the Lord had said.
In the Gospel passage, Jesus saw the large crowd coming to him and asks Philip where they could “buy enough food for them to eat.” Philip answers that “200 days’ wages worth of food would not be enough.”
Andrew said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish (he is willing to share); but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus has the crowd, 5,000 in number, comfortably seated on the grass. “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.”
Twelve baskets of leftovers were collected.
A couple of things to keep in mind are that barley was the grain used by poor people to make bread it was the cheapest available. These passages speak of barley loaves, thus identifying with the poor.
The second thing to notice is that fish are available for Jesus to offer the people. From Ezekiel 47:9-10, we recall the Jewish tradition that fish are associated with the era of salvation.
Mother Teresa went to the slum dwelling of Calcutta with just 20 cents in her pocket. When she died, 49 years later, that 20 cents had turned into 80 schools, 300 mobile dispensaries, 70 leprosy clinics, 30 homes for the dying, 30 homes for abandoned children, and 40,000 volunteers worldwide.
We give what we can. God creates more than enough. Individuals in all of the trouble spots in the world and society make a difference. Can we do our part?