Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. Pete Iorio
August 2, 2020 – 8:30 AM
The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is found in all four Gospels, although the context and emphasis varies. The feeding of the multitude is told a total of six times in the four Gospels, the event of the loaves and fish is the only miracle so emphasized. This is the only miracle, other than the Resurrection, that is told in all four Gospels, a fact that speaks of its importance to the early Church. [Compare Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:1-14]. The miraculous feeding narrative expresses the conviction that, through Jesus, we share in God’s own abundance and in the promises made to God’s covenant people. The lesson for every Christian is that, no matter how impossible his or her assignment may seem, with Divine help it can be done because “nothing is impossible with God.”
The early Christian community especially cherished this story because they saw this event as anticipating the Eucharist. The same main actions and verbs (took, blessed, broke gave) were used to describe both the loaves event and the institution of the Eucharist. The way in which Jesus’ actions are described [“looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples,”] makes a connection with Jesus’ Last Supper and the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist. The miracle itself is a symbol of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of unity, and the sharing of the broken bread is a sign of a community that shares and provides in abundance for the needs of its members. As Jesus does, so we must do. If we merely come to Mass to get communion and rush out because we got what we came for, we are missing out on the full experience. As Jesus has done, so we must do – we have TAKEN the Eucharist inside ourselves; We then are to give blessing or goodness and thanks to God for the gift and ask that he multiply it within us so that we can break open ourselves and then give to others in need.
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 her 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 here in our parish by participating in the works of charity done by organizations like St. Joseph Workers, the Knights of Columbus, Family Promise, Good Neighbors, the Food Connection, our Haiti ministry 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 disciples in the story had only five loaves of bread and two 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 we have never trusted God with our time, or our talent, or our treasure…all our resources…this is the time to start. Let us offer everything to God saying, “Here is what I am and what I have Lord; use me.” And He will, blessing and amplifying everything beyond our expectations. As we begin to give, we will discover that the Lord moves in where we are not adequate, and He abundantly supplies what is needed. When we give what we have to God, and have faith that God will bless it, it is then the miracle happens.