Image: Feeding the Five Thousand by Eularia Clark
Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Readings for this Sunday's liturgy)
Some folks believe in miracles and some folks don’t.
Still other folks just aren’t sure.
But I’ll wager that even folks who don’t believe in miracles
wouldn’t run away if one landed on their doorstep.
And I’ll bet skeptics might become believers
if a miracle landed in their lap
And isn’t it something that people who do believe in miracles
- and pray for them earnestly but don’t get one –
still continue to pray for and believe in miracles!
The scriptures report two miracles for us today.
Both the prophet Elisha and the Prophet Jesus
feed hundreds and even thousands from a very meager supply.
I’m sure that some among us believe that Jesus, with divine power,
multiplied the five loaves and two fishes
right before the very eyes of those who were watching.
And maybe others will wonder if the real miracle
was Jesus somehow convincing all these people
to share with one another whatever they’d brought along with them
for this mountainside revival meeting.
And others among us just don’t know:
maybe he really did this or maybe it’s just an allegory.
Of course the Church has always understood this to be a true miracle
and interpreted this scene in terms of the Eucharist:
Jesus takes some simple elementsAnother age might not have questioned miracles but we look at life
(here bread and fish, later bread and wine)
gives thanks for them, breaks and shares them,
and feeds everyone,
drawing the many into one through himself.
through the filters of scientific knowledge.
We ask questions about such things and try to reason things out.
But our faith does not ask us to put those questions away.
Faith never asks us to believe something contrary to our reason.
Faith and reason are friends, not enemies of each other.
If reason can live in harmony with our passion for those we love
so can our reason live in peace with faith in realities spiritual.
One need not abandon reason to trust in love, in hope, in faith.
In fact, it’s the blending of reason with faith, hope and love
that yields a life marked by depth, trust and intimacy.
Thousands of years after the event,
we’re not able to submit Jesus’ deed to scientific inquiry.
But there are harder, deeper questions we might apply here
and their answers may be more telling
than wondering whether or not we believe in miracles.
Here are the questions I have in mind:
- Do we believe our hearts hunger for something
a word from God can feed and nourish?
- Do we believe we might find in ancient words
a wisdom of value for today?
- Do we believe that even today, this morning,
Jesus might use our prayer and our hands,
to take, bless, break and share bread and wine
to feed us with his life and love and make us one in him
in the bread and cup of the Eucharist?
- Do we believe that Jesus is with us here,
speaking to us in his word, praying with us in our prayer,
offering himself for us at this altar as once he did on the Cross,
feeding us as once he fed the thousands on the mountainside?
- Do we believe?
I believe we DO believe these things:
that we come here every Sunday
for more than meets the reasoned eye
and leave here strengthened in faith,
comforted and challenged, healed and fed
by Jesus himself, present in Word and sacrament.
If that’s what you believe, too,
then come to the table, with reason and with faith,
remembering that the most reasonable thing we can do
is to give ourselves,
- and therein find our hope.