O.T. XVII [B] (July 29): 2 Kings 4:42-44, Eph 4:1-6, John 6:1-15
A man received a special pre- Christmas gift from his rich brother. It was a beautiful new car - fully loaded and ready to go. On Christmas Eve, when he came out of his office, a street kid was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it. "Is this your car, mister?” the kid asked. When he replied that it was and that his brother had given it to him for Christmas, the boy said, "You mean your brother gave it to you, and it didn't cost you anything? Free? For nothing? Gosh, I wish..." The boy hesitated, and the man knew what he was about to say. He had heard it many times over the past few days. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the boy said shocked the man. ”I wish", the boy said, "I wish I could be a brother like that." We can be a brother like that or a sister like that. All it takes is that we offer ourselves and what we have, to God. All it takes is that we cease to worry about how little we have and begin instead to think about what it is that we can offer to others, as the little boy in today’s gospel story did by sharing his bread and fish with the multitude through Jesus.
The first reading tells us how the prophet Elisha, by invoking God’s power, fed one hundred men with twenty barley loaves. This miracle foreshadowed the gospel account of Jesus' miraculous feeding of the crowd who followed him to hear his words. This is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that is told in all the gospels, a fact that speaks of its importance to the early Church. The reaction of the people was immediate and unanimous; they interpreted the miracle as a messianic sign and gave Jesus two Messianic titles: "The prophet” and "the one who is to come." This miracle teaches us that God works marvels through ordinary people. Elisha’s servant and Jesus’ disciples distributed the bread, provided by God. Thus, God meets the needs of the people through the services provided by the members of His community.
One of the greatest tragedies of our time is the fact that millions of people are reduced to starvation throughout the world. In the Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called "absolute poverty". Every year 15 million children die of hunger. For the price of one missile, a school full of hungry children could eat lunch every day for 5 years. 100 million deaths could be prevented for the price of ten Stealth bombers, or what the world spends on its military in two days! The Indian subcontinent has nearly half the world's hungry people. Africa and the rest of Asia together have approximately 40%, and the remaining hungry people are found in Latin America and other parts of the world. Nearly one in four people, ie.1.3 billion, live on less than $1 per day, while the world's 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world's people.
God has arranged the world in such a way, that every person may have the food he or she needs. God continues to work thousands and millions of miracles in nature to provide food for his children: the power to sprout which a seed contains, the way a grain grows and the way nature takes care of the crops. Food in the world should suffice to feed God's children but it will never suffice to fill the greed of men. Those of us who live in an industrialized society place a high priority on comfort and convenience. Our standard of living places a significant strain on the world economy. Certainly this is something Christians must consider in terms of their own economic lifestyle. At a time when people are not getting enough to eat, we are living a lifestyle far beyond what many could even imagine. We have a great challenge before us. We must not only consider what we can do to feed the hungry, but we must also consider what we should do to limit our indulgent lifestyle.
God blesses those who share their talents, with loving commitment. 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 those 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 in our parish by participating in the works of charity done by organizations like the St. Vincent De Paul Society, Foresters, the Knights of Columbus and 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 small boy in the story had only five barley loaves and two dried 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 you have never trusted God with your time, or your talent, or your treasure...all your resources...this is the time to start. Let us offer ourselves and whatever we have to God saying, “Here is what I am and what I have Lord; use me; use it.” And He will bless us and bless our offering, amplifying it beyond our expectations. When we give what we have to God, and we ask Him to bless it, it is then the miracle happens. And we can be distributors of God’s blessings to others.