Friday, July 24, 2009

Loaves into Fishes--17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The next month is exciting for me in regard to the weekly gospel readings. For the next several weeks, we cover a little bit out of my favorite part of the Bible--the sixth chapter of John. It's the section of the Bible that the "Bread of Life" discourse is in. This is an EXCITING section. There aren't any battles in it. No one dies. There is no adultery. But it's exciting because Jesus has got something to say in this chapter. He normally has great words of wisdom but in THIS chapter---He's REALLY got something to say. What he says provides us with the Eucharist--the source and summit of our faith.

Before we jump into that, we are given a little sample, of what were are about to see. In the first reading (2 King 4: 42-44), the prophet Elisha does his own multiplication of loaves. A man brings forth twenty barley loaves and Elisha tells his servant to feed everyone with the 20 loaves. The servant protests but Elisha persists. And what do you know---the 20 loaves feeds a hundred people with bread left over.

Jump forward to the gospel and we see that just like last week, even though Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee the people follow him. There is a huge throng of people and Jesus asks Phillip, "Whoa!! That's a lot of people!! Where can we get enough food to feed all these people?" Scripture lets us in on a little secret though---Jesus already knows what He's going to do. He's only testing Phillip.

I can picture Phillip looking around and going, "Crud!! What are you looking at me for?? I don't know." He goes on to say, "Two hundred days wages worth of food wouldn't be enough to feed everyone just a little bit." Two hundred days wages---that's a lot of money even back in that time.

Andrew--Peter's brother--comes up and points out a kid with five barley loaves and two fish. He also points out, "Hey--it's something but it's not going to feed everyone."

Jesus hears nothing of it. Jesus takes the loaves, gives thanks and proceeds to feed the multitudes. Every one has their fill of bread and fish (I wonder if they filled everyone up on the bread like they do at The Olive Garden first). There was even some left over that they filled up twelve baskets!

Okay, so you are thinking--Jesus does another miracle. Big whoop. He's always doing that. But knowing what is coming you the the multiplication of loaves and fishes in a whole new light. You see, Jesus keeps feeding us and providing us nourishment. At every mass, we are fed and nourished with the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is showing that it's no big deal for him to multiply fishes and bread so why can He not multiply Himself and feed us for eternity.

On a side note--here is something that kind of irritates me. Some of you have probably heard this homily before: "It's possible Jesus did not really multiply the fishes and the loaves but that people actually had food on them and they shared with their neighbor and that's the real miracle--that he was able to get people to share." OH BALDERDASH!! Stop trying to explain away everything. That's a bunch of post-Vatican II liberal weenie hogwash. God made the Heavens and the Earth out of nothing--surely He can multiply some fishies and bread!

If you don't have faith that He can do that, how can you have faith that every week He turns (through the priest) bread and wine into His own body and blood??


  1. It just occurred to me...

    Not only does Jesus feed us with His Body and Blood through the Eucharist, but, if we allow it, He will multiply his Life within us.

    My prayer before each Eucharist is a twist on the "Jesus prayer":

    Lord Jesus, Son of God:
    Empty me of all darkness,
    And fill me with your Life and Light and Love.

    Perhaps I should add this:

    And daily increase it within me.

  2. Great post! I really enjoy your wisdom and wit.

  3. Your are right -- those loaves and fishes are for real? How do I know? Because it has happened to me on several occasions. I expect it to happen now. And I am very much talking about today's loaves and fishes. I will give you one striking example, but I could fill a book with examples from life and the life of friends. My husband and I unexpectedly came up $11,000 short on IRS taxes from some time we spent working in the Middle East (had not expected to have to pay taxes), and the IRS refused anything except a 6-week extension. Because my job requires a good financial history, I could have lost my job if I had run into IRS trouble. I put it in God's hands. In a few days, I received a note from an old employer saying that I had to either transfer an old retirement account or take out the money. I took out the money: $3500. Then, I remembered another old account from another employer that I had forgotten because it had lost so much money that it was really low, somewhere around $3000-$4000, but I figured what was there would help, then I might be able to borrow the remainder from friends. But God took care of that, too. I called the fund, was told that I could get the money, that it would take a couple of weeks, and that the current balance was $4K but that the amount sent would depend on how Wall Street did that day, i.e. I would get the 5:00 close-out amount. The day before the money was due to the IRS, a check arrived for almost $8K. Apparently, some of the tech stocks soared that day. I had enough to pay the IRS, the tax accountant who had gotten us the extension, and the overnight mailing fee, and as with the loaves and fishes, there were some pieces left over: $400. I gave that back to God via a retreat center.

    Loaves and fishes for real? You bet I believe they were for real!

  4. Great story, Elizebeth. I think it can all go back to trusting in God because He will provide. I expect many people have stories that are similar to that, even if they don't realize it--where they are short on money but somehow it ends up being there, not enough food to feed all but everyone gets food.

    Thank you for your insight.