17th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            A few years ago, I read an article in a religious magazine which recounts what happened in a certain parish. According to the article, one Sunday, after the priest-presider read the gospel passage that day, which is also today’s gospel reading, he told those attending Mass: “I don’t intend to give you a homily today.” “I’d only ask you to look at the pictures being projected on our screen – pictures of hungry people in our parish.” “And I’d only be praying that your hearts be moved with compassion, just like Jesus when he saw the hungry people who were with him.”

            After showing the pictures – pictures of hungry people, pictures of various forms of hunger – the priest then said, “More than five thousand people were fed by Jesus, after a little boy had shared his five loaves and two fish.” “Though not much but the boy had given all he had… an act of supreme generosity.” “The Lord is asking us to give him our own bread and fish, trusting that whatever little we have to give, will be more than enough to feed the hungry.”

            The following Sunday, the priest reported to his parishioners – saying: “The miracle of the multiplication of loaves that we had heard in last Sunday’s gospel reading was repeated.” “Out of your own bread and fish that I asked you to offer, we were able to collect, just for one day, enough money, to finance our feeding program for one year.” The article concludes with this reflection of the priest: “This is a testimony to the truth that if we allow ourselves to be instruments or conduits of God’s blessings, what little we have to give will be more than enough to accomplish great things.”

            Perhaps, we can say that there would not have been a miracle – the miracle of the feeding of thousands of people – if the little boy, in today’s gospel story, did not give his own ‘baon’ of five barley loaves and two fish. Certainly, the disciples thought they needed a considerable amount of money in order to feed thousands of people What was only available were five loaves and two fish. Obviously, they were not enough. They were practically nothing. But it was all that Jesus needed to perform a miracle.

            Do you believe that the miracle in today’s gospel can also happen and can continue to happen here in our own parish community? Do you believe that the Lord wants to feed and to continue feeding the hungry people? But I think the more important and critical question – and I want to address this to each of you: Do you allow yourself to be an instrument of God’s grace? Can you allow the Lord to make you a conduit of his blessings?

            Today’s gospel reading is challenging us to ask ourselves: How much of our lives and our resources are we currently placing in the hands of Jesus to do with as he wishes? This question goes to the very core or heart of the spirituality of stewardship.

            I have already repeatedly said that our mission partnership is our way of concretizing the spirituality of stewardship. It is exercising and practicing good stewardship. It is giving our own “bread and fish” to the Lord. It is generously sharing our time, talents, and resources for Christ’s mission. It is our way of participating in the life and mission of our parish church. And it shows our willingness to be instruments or conduits of God’s blessings.

            Again, let me address each of you… Are you giving to Christ your bread and fish so that he can use them to do mighty deeds? How much of what you have been blessed with are you generously sharing for Christ’s mission? The miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish, the miracle of feeding the hungry continues through us every time we give ourselves in faith to the Lord.

            Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, You remind us that You need what we can bring You. We may not have much to bring but you need what we have. Teach us to trust You more, and hold on to this truth: that little is always much in Your hands. Lord, continue the miracle of feeding people through us. May we be generous in giving ourselves to You. Make us realize that every time we place the little we have into Your hands, a great thing happens with us and through us. Amen.          

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