17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
There was a thirteen-year old boy who read about the missionary works of Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa, and he wanted to help. All he had was enough money to buy one bottle of aspirin. He wrote to the US Air Force and asked if they could fly over Dr. Schweitzer’s hospital and drop the bottle down to him.
A radio station heard of the letter and broadcast the story about the boy’s concern for helping others. Other people responded as well. Eventually the boy himself was flown by the US government to Schweitzer’s hospital, along with 4.5 tons of medical supplies worth $400,000 freely given by thousands of people. Of course, it would be the equivalent of millions of dollars today. When Dr. Schweitzer heard the story, he said, “I never thought one child could do so much.”
One of the characters in today’s gospel story is a boy who does not have much. He only has “five barley loaves and two fish” but he readily gives them. What he has, he offers to Jesus. And as a result, thousands of hungry people are fed. You know the story very well.
Once again, we see here the wondrous way of God: He always involves the human person as a participant in his saving work, and not just as a beneficiary. Whatever a person generously gives and shares, no matter how little or small, in the hands of God it is multiplied and it becomes enough and sufficient. We see this in the lives of people who trust in the divine providence which enables them to share generously and sacrificially, and whatever they share is multiplied.
The lesson of today’s gospel is clearly this: You give what you have, even if it is very little, to Christ, it will be multiplied. You give Christ your mind, your heart, or your soul… you give him your care, compassion, or love… you give him your time, talent, or treasure… you give him whatever you have, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant, the Lord will use it for his purpose. You give it to Christ and you will find that the whole thing is multiplied and is used to do a great thing.
The gospel is inviting us to look into our hearts and ask ourselves this question: How much of our lives, how much of what we have, how much of our resources are we currently placing in the hands of Jesus to do with as he wishes? Are we willingly and selflessly giving our own little bread and fish to the Lord?
The miracle of feeding hungry people needs to continue. How can this miracle continue to happen? The miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish, the miracle of feeding the hungry and the poor, continues through people who give all they have. The principle of multiplying resources is active in the lives of generous and selfless people.
The gospel story shows us that when we translate or put our care and compassion into positive action, the little we are able to do is multiplied by God’s grace – in such a way that it becomes more than sufficient for the need. All that Jesus needs from us to feed the hungry crowds of the world is our five loaves and two fish. William Barclay has this commentary and reflection: “The fact of life is that Jesus needs what we can bring him.” “We may not have much to bring but he needs what we have.” “Little is always much in the hands of Christ.”
I have been a witness of many miracles happening in this parish community. These miracles happened and continue to happen because there are parishioners who deeply care for our community and for our less privileged brethren and who generously share their bread and fish, inviting and impelling the Lord to multiply them. I call this “the miracle of the multiplication of generous hearts.”
My dear OLMM parishioners, may each one of you continue to be a part of this miracle. It might be true that we can only give very little, but if we are going to place that little into the hands of Jesus there is no telling what he can do with us and through us.
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, a great thing happens with us and through us. Amen.