20150726 Ordinary 17 B

Jesus was always concerned about the material and physical wellbeing of the people as much as he was concerned about their spiritual well fare. When Jesus asked Philip where to buy enough food for them to eat, it revealed his concern.
Philip was the logical disciple to ask since he was from this area and would know who to ask and where to go for the food. Philip answers Jesus’ question from a materialistic view. “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” The answer shows Philip understands business concepts and the ability to solve them.
Then, Andrew came forward and said: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.” The boy with the barley loaves and the two fish is only listed in John’s Gospel. Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
After everyone had enough to eat, Jesus told the disciples “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. Twelve is the number of the tribes of Israel. It symbolically represents all the people in the world. If the twelve baskets represent all the people of the world, then why are so many people starving today?
Gerald Darring wrote: “Today’s reality is different. Every three days more people die from malnutrition and disease than from the bombing of Hiroshima, and every year more people die from preventable hunger than died in the Holocaust, even though we grow enough grain in the world to provide every man, woman, and child with a satisfactory diet of 3000 calories.”
Rather sobering isn’t it?
Why, if the world raises enough food to feed all the people in the world, do people starve to death? Much of it is due to fighting and corruption so the food does not get to the people who are in need. If only we could learn to get along with each other, we could literally feed the world and have plenty left over. The five thousand men and their families shared in the bounty Jesus provided. We too must learn to share in God’s blessings and then share with others.
We in the United States are the most prosperous and blessed people in the world. We have so much and yet so often waste it. But there are people around us in need. Holy Cross parish works to help those in need who live in our community. The Outreach program provides food, help with utilities and referrals to other agencies who can provide further assistance. Our parish is known for the potatoes that we plant, grow and harvest to share with others. Last year, over fifty thousand pounds of potatoes were given to Food Banks in the area to help feed the hungry. Just as Jesus was concerned with the physical wellbeing of the people, Holy Cross has reached out to help those who are in need around us.
The Gospel also gives us a look into the food that satisfies the heart. Jesus is the Bread of Life. While the barley loaves satisfy the physical hunger, Jesus satisfies the hunger in our hearts. The reading follows the Eucharistic form bringing the Bread of Life to all. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and distributed the bread to the people. It is another reference to the Last Supper when Jesus instituted our Eucharist. It satisfied them, and satisfies us today, as only Christ’s body and blood can do.
The people, who witnessed the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fish along with the many other miracles that Jesus performed, recognized him as the Messiah. They were expecting an earthly Messiah who would free them from the oppression of their poverty and the Roman government. They did not see Jesus as the Bread of Life who would free them and us from our sins to give us eternal life.
When the priest consecrates the bread and wine at the altar, Catholics believe that it becomes the body and blood of Christ to provide nourishment for our spiritual journey in this life. We can only share Christ’s love through the sharing of our faith that is sustained by Eucharist we receive from his table.
We at Holy cross are doing our part to provide for those who are in need in our community and the greater region. But what about those who are truly starving for lack of food in Haiti, Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia? Many throughout the world are unable to get food due to war, oppression by dictators and corrupt governments, lack of transportation to get the food to them and loss because of pillage.
How do we help them? We are unable to go to those areas and make the changes needed to get the food to the people in need. However, we have the ability to make it happen. We must pray for those who are in need of food for their bodies. Prayer is powerful and will make a difference; it will open channels to get the food through customs and into the hands of the people in crisis.
In addition to prayer, our giving to Peter’s Pence collection several weeks ago helps the Universal Church provide for the critical needs of others around the world. The Peter’s Pence Collection supports the Pope’s philanthropy by giving the Holy Father the means to provide emergency assistance to those who are suffering as a result of war, oppression, natural disaster, and disease. Through prayer and giving, we support the world’s needs.
There is a greater crisis than the world’s hungry, as great as that is. We must pray for those who are starving spiritually. It is happening here in the United States, in Canada, across Europe and many other places of the world. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and distributed the bread to the people. We must receive it into our hearts, and then share it with those around us. We must pray for a renewal of faith around the world.
Are we willing to spend just five extra minutes a day praying that the hungry will get the food they need? Or are we too busy checking e-mail and text messages? Will we give a little more to the Out Reach program or another charity that supports the poor and those in need? Will we pray for a renewal of our own hearts as well as the rest of the world for a spiritual awakening that we must share with others? Will we receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Holy Eucharist and then share his love with everyone we meet?

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