Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
A few years ago, a nasty hurricane hit the Florida coast, causing much destruction. I remember at that time a news story that moved many hearts, including my own:
At the same time, a 6 year old boy, had been saving his money to have his 7th birthday at Disney World. Because of the hurricane, the park was closed and his trip cancelled. And yet, that did not deter him. Seeing so many people in his own neighbourhood whose homes were ruined, he decided to do something else with his money: he got his dad to take him to the store where he bought hundreds of hot dogs, potato chips and water and set up a stand to feed those suffering from the disaster. Local people appreciated his good work and it gave them a respite from their broken worlds. This was the beginning of a community being rebuilt! A true miracle indeed.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus feeds the 5000 with the goodness of another young boy who offers 2 fish and 5 barley loaves. And yet Jesus takes these small gifts, blesses them and shares them among the multitudes. We heard how everyone eats… the hunger is met head on and there are leftovers as well, which are gathered up in baskets…nothing wasted. And yet, this ‘miracle’ story is not that 5000 people ate…that is only part of it. The other part of the miracle is that God took what little that was offered (5 loaves and 2 fish) and it was shared… with everyone. In other words, God can do so much with so little. For me that is the important part of the miracle… that on that day, on a mountain side, people learned about the abundance of God.
God is so concerned about us… all of us. We heard that 12 basket of leftovers is symbolic of us… we are never left out nor excluded. All is important to God. We know that it was not unusual for Jesus to feed others who were physically hungry. But as well, he fed people who hungered for good health, acceptance, relationships healed and or built. Two thousand years later, Jesus still reaches out to the ‘multitudes’ in every aspect of our lives. How do we follow his example?
This weekend we remember grandparents and the elderly, our fore-bearers, whose shoulders that we now stand on. Look at how many grandparents and seniors are active in our families… running kids to games and meetings because both parents are working or the seniors who continue to pray for their families and the needs of our community? And the wisdom and history that they possess and willing to share.
- Or those who are parents trying to do the best they can in a complicated world with advancing technology that no one can keep up with. You feed the multitudes… sometimes literally, extra kids for supper or on the weekends.
- Or how we can encourage people to get vaccinated against the covid 19 disease… so that we could eradicate the corona virus.
- Your presence at Mass, your own prayers for others are all ways of feeding the multitudes.
Yesterday morning, I woke up and began to watch the CBC and it was Terry Sequin’s last day. It was sad and yet over and over, the tributes that came into him, thanking him for bringing us the news first in NB. Look at the 1000’s of listeners that Terry nourished each day, not only with news of the day, but with an empathetic heart and a gift for making puns… making us laugh or feel a little bit better about the day ahead.
Be it parents, grandparent, elderly, Terry Seguin or a little boy who helped rebuild a community after a hurricane, we have so much to offer, even if we think it is not much, God can do so much with it and for others.
NBC got word of what this little guy did for his community and sent a news person to interview him. While he was answering their questions, Mickey Mouse from Disney World showed up at his door and gave him free tickets and accommodations for the theme parks!
Two little boys one with some hot dogs and chips and the other with loaves and fish made a big difference for many people. With their open hearts and generosity, God took what little they had and fed the many. Moved by the Holy Spirit, these little guys recognized a need and trusted God. Will we like them do the same?