Christ Continues to Feed His People
Readings: 1st: 2 Kg 4, 42-44; Ps: 144; 2nd: Eph 4, 1-6; Gos: Jn 6, 1-15
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today the seventeenth Sunday of ordinary time, we celebrate Christ the new Elisha who feeds, and unites us in him. Our first reading and the gospel are similar. Both narrate the miracles of the multiplication of bread motivated by compassion and generosity.
In our first reading, Elisha got a gift of food. However, noticing that the people were hungry and moved by compassion, he generously offered it them. Through him God miraculously multiplied the food. Thus, fulfilling his prophecy: “They will eat and have left over.”
In the second reading, Paul reminds us of the virtues that we need in order to live and survive together as a body of Christ. That is a community and family united by one faith, one baptism and one spirit. These virtues include: “Charity, generosity, gentility, complete selflessness and patience towards one another.”
In the gospel, moved by compassion for his flock, Jesus, “the new Elisha,” replicated the miracle of Elisha. He fed more than five thousand people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. He was sensitive to their situation and need. Christ cares both for our physical and spiritual needs. He feeds us with both His word, and the Holy Eucharist.
There are many important lessons we can learn from today’s readings and especially from the miracles. The first is from the compassion and generosity of both Elisha and Jesus for their flocks. Compassion moved them to generously feed their people. Compassion is the basis of empathy and sympathy. We need it to understand what it means for others to be hungry, thirsty, sick, homeless, jobless, and lonely. In fact, we need them to be human.
The Second lesson is that God can transform something little into something great. So, we must not doubt God as the disciples did. This is because, our God is a God of impossibilities. As Christ tells us: “With God all things are possible” (Mt 19: 26), and Paul affirms: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4: 13).
The third lesson is the generosity of the little boy. He is a hero in Jesus’ miracle. He generously offered what he had and is generosity became the motivation of a great miracle for his community. From two fish and five loves, the community was blessed with more twelve baskets of food. This shows that at times, God works with what we have.
To be compassionate is to be like Christ. To be generous is to cooperate with Christ in his ministry. Christ sought the cooperation of his disciples and community, and the little boy cooperated with what he had. He exhibited a fraternal spirit and so, changed the destiny of his community.
How do we respond to the needs of our community in times of need? The goods we have, our talents, time, knowledge, experience, including our faith are values that we must place at the service of others.
A generous and compassionate attitude towards others can enrich the life of many, as well as our own life. When compassion and generosity embrace, great miracles happen for a community united by one faith, one spirit and one baptism.
Finally, through his generosity and compassion, Christ continues to work miracles in our midst. He continues to feed and nourish us physically and spiritually at every Eucharistic celebration. So, with the psalmist let us praise Christ: “You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.”
Peace be with you!