Earlier I explained that we interrupt our reading of Mark for six Sundays to read John 6 - the Eucharistic Chapter - and explained that the multiplication of the loaves and fish anticipates the miracle of the Eucharist
Who are we? What is the purpose of life? What is life all about? Is life only about doing our work? Is life only about making money? Is life only about getting what I want? Is life only about eating, working, sleeping and doing it all again the next day and the day after that and the day after that? Is there anything more to life? Does life offer us any other possibilities? Yes life does offer us another possibility. We are offered eternal life by God. We can get lost in everything we see around us, or we have the possibility of living with faith knowing who we really are, sons and daughters of God. If we get lost in everything we see around us and give in to the temptations of the moment we will find ourselves in a mess.
Think of who we really are. We are created by God to be happy with him for ever in heaven. Think of what eternity with God is going to be like. Our whole life here on earth is only like a drop in the ocean compared to eternity with God. Think of what life with God in heaven will be like. Think of how long it will be; no end, eternity. Think of what God has done for you. Out of love for us God sent his son Jesus to die for us to pay the price for our sins. So how much are you worth? You are worth the precious blood of Jesus, you are priceless. Is that the way you think of yourself. Is that the way the soaps on TV portray people? Is that the vision of ourselves that our culture is promoting? Obviously not. Since we have faith and we are sons and daughters of God and know that God has promised us eternal life we see that the soaps on TV and their lifestyle do not reflect who we really are, that the soaps are in fact rubbish, and that so much of what is promoted in our culture also is only trash.
So we need faith to see and understand who we really are. We need faith in order not to get lost in the stupid ideas of this western world which has gone crazy. We need faith to live who we really are, children of God with a glorious future. We need faith to see that the most important things in life are what we cannot see, our value – we are worth the precious blood of Jesus (1 Pet 1:19). We need faith to see the future God offers to us - the possibility of living life in a way that really brings us joy. What we cannot see is more important than what we can see. If we forget about what we cannot see we will end up in a mess. God offers us the possibility of a wonderful life. What the world offers us is puny but God offers us an eternity of happiness. Why then would anyone follow the ways of the world instead of God’s offer? What a contrast between the folly that our western culture offers us and the real happiness that God offers us.
We see that same contrast in our Gospel today (John 6:1-15). No one could see beyond the five loaves and two fish and the thousands of hungry people. They were looking at the situation with human reasoning. But what God offers us is out of this world. And to prove it Jesus fed the thousands with only five loaves and two fish and the scraps left over filled twelve baskets, even more than the food they had before eating. That is what God offers us, more than we can ever imagine. The disciples had been thinking about the situation with human logic. Philip said, "Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit." (John 6:7) Andrew also did not see any divine possibilities, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" (John 6:9) That is precisely the thinking of our world at this time, it is lost in the two hundred days wages and the five barley loaves and two fish when God is offering so much more. We see the same also in our first reading today (2 Kings 4:42-44). Elisha said to his servant to give the hundred men twenty barley loaves and fresh grain but the servant replied that it would not be enough for 100 men. But Elisha insisted and there was food left over.
That brings me back to where I began. Who are we? What is the purpose of life? What is life all about? Is life only about doing our work? Is life only about making money? Is life only about getting what I want? Does life offer us any other possibilities? Yes, we are offered eternal life by God and the possibility of growing every day closer to God. Not only that, but since we are all God’s beloved we have a spiritual attitude towards everyone. That is why in our second reading today we heard,
"I…urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love…" (Eph 4:1-2)
God offers us, more than we can ever imagine. In our Gospel the disciples had been thinking about the situation with human logic. Philip said, "Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit." (John 6:7) Andrew also did not see any divine possibilities, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" (John 6:9) That is precisely the thinking of our world at this time, it is lost in the two hundred days wages and the five barley loaves and two fish while God is offering so much more.
This homily was delivered when I was on vacation in Ireland after joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost
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