Homily for 17th  Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

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 Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

(https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8452-8392)

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.

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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. Through him, God miraculously multiplied the food. Thus, fulfilling his prophecy: “They will eat and have leftover.”

In the second reading, Paul reminds us of the virtues that we need 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, Christ, “the new Elisha,” replicated Elisha’s miracle. 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.

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There are many important lessons we can learn from today’s readings and especially from these miracles. The first is from the compassion and generosity of both Elisha and Jesus for their flocks. Compassion moved them to feed their people generously. 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. We need them to be human.

The Second lesson is that God can transform something little into something extraordinary. 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 his generosity became the motivation of a great miracle for his community. From two fish and five loaves, the community was blessed with more than 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 his disciples and the community’s cooperation, and the little boy collaborated 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 bear, our talents, time, knowledge, experience, including our faith, are values that we must place at the service of others.

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A generous and compassionate attitude towards others can enrich the lives of many and 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!

Maranatha!

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