Leftovers from Jesus' picnic!

Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

If only this happened today – in our own times.
Can you imagine  --
if there were 5,000 families on a mountainside listening to Jesus,
how many people would whip out their iPhones
to record the miracle and put it on YouTube
and then we could find out then how he did it
– not even so much how – but what he did.

Were there suddenly baskets of bread and fish all over the place?
Did bread and fish rain down from the heavens?
What great video this would make!

The scripture doesn’t give us these details,
doesn’t focus at all on how it happened
but the scriptures today do draw our attention
to how much happened,
how much food there was.

Imagine how much bread and fish you’d need
to feed 5,000 families.

And there was food left over, too – enough to fill 12 baskets.
So much food!
Too much food!
Food to spare and take home and share...

The miracle is mysterious, but the message is simple.
Jesus comes to feed our hearts’ hunger for peace:
peace with God, peace with our neighbor and peace with ourselves.
And there is no end to the nourishment Jesus has to offer us:
there’s enough for everyone,
with no one left out,
with much to spare.

But it could be, at least for some of us,
it could be that we believe in the miracle
but not so much that there’s enough for everyone,
that no one is left out,
that there’s enough for all.

I wonder...
Have there been times in your life and in mine,
when we’ve found ourselves at the end of the line, or so it seemed,
looking around at all the others the Lord has fed
and asking, "Is there anything left for me?"

And if someone has then told us there’s more than enough to go around,
have you and I looked for those 12 extra basketsful
and been unable to find them?

Has it seemed that everyone else got there before us?

Being spiritually hungry is a painful burden in itself
but finding oneself alone and hungry,
hungry for God’s love and presence and help,
that can be the loneliest place of all.

There are times when we go hungry for God’s peace,
thought it comes in abundance,
but comes in shapes and forms we didn’t expect or ask for or look for.

And there are times we find ourselves alone,
having left the mountainside and gone off by ourselves,
leaving behind so many who are ready to share with us
the abundant nourishment of their company and their love.

There is more than enough for all,
and the Lord feeds all who come to be fed with his peace.

We don’t know how the miracle was accomplished
but we do know two things:
it began with a boy with five loaves and two fish;
and it ended with the disciples’ clean-up crew,
going around with baskets, picking up the leftovers.

It’s the Lord who provides,
drawing from what we already have;
and we share in how he feeds us
by gathering up and sharing with one another
the abundance of what we receive.

As we gather at the Lord’s table this afternoon,
some are at peace and well-nourished, spiritually,
and others are hungry and alone.

In the Eucharist, as on the mountainside in the gospel,
the Lord is here to nourish us all of us,
to nourish us with more than enough
because that’s what he has to give us,
that’s what he has to nourish the hungers of all our hearts -
and there is more than enough here for all of us.

As he laid down his life on the Cross
and shares it now in the sacrament of the altar,
so does he call us, each of us to break and pour out ourselves
nourishing one another with the life with which we’re fed.


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