THE GOSPEL OF SHARING: HOMILY FOR THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR (B) REV. FR. BONIFACE NKEM ANUSIEM PH.D

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Life is all about sharing and sharing is fundamental to life. Without sharing, life will be redundant and in fact boring and difficult.

  • Imagine if the sun refuses to share its light which is very important to humans, plants and animals.
  • Imagine if the air we breathe freezes!
  • Imagine if all the oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams just dry up!
  • Imagine if the earth refuses to allow the germination of crops and plants!
  • Imagine if God withdraws His favours, mercy, love and even His image and likeness from us!

In fact, the best thing to do is not to imagine any of the above because that will be very detrimental to us. However, they all tell us that sharing is really indispensable in life.

Today our Lord Jesus Christ is presented to us as a sharer; in fact he is the ideal sharer, the sharer per excellence. Sharing summarizes why he came into our context. He came to share not only the word of God with us, but also his total self: “body, blood, soul and divinity”. Last Sunday we were told that our Lord upon seeing the devastated crowd who came in search of him, set out immediately to share the word of God with them and he did this at length because he taught them many things (Mark 6:34).

The gospel today from John (6:1-5) is actually a continuation of the event of last Sunday. At the end of his sermon, it was late and the people were clearly famished from the long trek in search of him as well as the long but interesting sermon on many things. The session over, the apostles were eager to send the people away so that they could actually get that rest the Lord recommended. Remember they were still to get rest after their apostolic work of last Sunday. They were not done yet with work; Jesus asked Philip where they could buy bread to feed the multitude.

After sharing the Word of God, Jesus is now extending his care from the soul to the body. This tells us that God has comprehensive care over us. The Psalmist asked “what is man that you have thought for him, mortal man that take care of him?” (Psalm 8:4). Psalm (27:10) says: “My father and my mother may abandon me but the Lord will take care of me”.][

The request made by Jesus to Philip in view of buying bread was like a difficult and unrealizable task. This reminds us of his question earlier to the crowd: “who touched my clothes” (Mark 5: 30). Philip gave a very straight and simple answer it is impossible to get such supply above all we don’t have such amount in the purse. Philip here sounded like the financial secretary, we know that Judas kept the money anyway. However Jesus was trying to find out what Philip would say because he already knew what he would do.

Often when faced with some situations in life, we behave like Philip. We say it is not possible, we claim and assume that nothing can be done about the situation even when God has not said anything (Lam.3:37). Philip actually represents most of us who cannot see beyond what human power and resources can do. We often like Philip see fear where we ought to see faith. Like Philip some of us approach God with the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2) instead of the pattern of God.

However, in all these Jesus knew exactly what to do. In your life God knows exactly what to do. In your challenges and hazzels, God knows exactly what to do. Philip thought that money can answer and address the situation, but this goes beyond the region of finance to the region of faith. It was at this point that we saw a flicker of faith coming from Andrew. He said that he could see a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish, but that will not be enough for the crowd.

I am particularly moved by Andrew’s statement. Andrew stands for hope, Andrew stands for optimism, and Andrew stands for positive challenge unto God. Andrew understood the fact that God needs something from you before He can bring about multiplication. Something has to go forth before something comes forth. If you search the bible very well you will understand this underlying principle. You must bring something before you can get a whole lot. In Exodus Moses and Aaron had to bring something (their staff) for miracles to happen (Ex.4:3-4; 7:9, 19;). In 1st Kings (17:12) the widow had to bring her last oil and flour before she got the miracle of abundance. In 2nd Kings (4:2) the widow had to bring her last oil before she got the amazing “oil well” in her room. In the First reading today too (2nd Kings 4:42-44) the servants of Elisha had to bring some bread which he multiplied.

Often times, we come with nothing while asking God to grant us increase. You sure must bring something no matter how small it may be. Jesus had challenged us in Mark (11:22) that no matter how small our faith could be, it is capable of moving mountains. Get me right, what you are expected to come with must not be a material thing. It could be your faith, hope and love.

I am moved also by the position of Andrew as an INTRODUCER. That was his function throughout the gospel. He introduced Simon Peter to Jesus from the gospel account of John on their call to become apostles (Jn.1:40-42). When some Greeks came to look for Jesus he was the one that took them to the Lord (Jn.12: 20-22). He did also introduce the good news to the people of Asia Minor and Greece and was martyred at Patras in Achea in Greece. Like Andrew we are called by virtue of our baptism to become INTRODUCERS of the good news to people. We are called to see and introduce good things to others and not bad things. It is very unfortunate, that in our world today many people are introducing so many things that run contrary to God’s original design. For example marriage, which biblically is a union of a man and a woman, has being redefined and reintroduced in many places as a union between two individuals irrespective of their genders.

Back to the situation, Andrew practically challenged the Lord to multiply the five loaves and two fish; a small boy’s lunch (may be for him and his siblings or may be what he came to sell at the “religious rally”). One striking thing was that the boy agreed to let go the five loaves of bread and two fish. He was extremely altruistic and charitable. I wonder what was going on in his mind as he was giving out all he had.

How needful it is for us to let go especially when we genuinely have and there is legitimate need. Yes! Jesus multiplied the loaves of bread and the two fish, but this could only happen with the disposition and good will of a small boy who was willing to share. The miracle was performed by Jesus Christ but it was made readily possible by the small boy. From the five loaves of bread and two fish a great multitude was able to have dinner. From the benevolence of a small boy a great crowd went home satisfied.

Sometime ago in a Children mass while reflecting on this passage a child asked me: “Fr! What happened to the remaining twelve baskets”. My answer was spontaneous: “they were given to the small boy and his family”. Though we were not told who took the remaining basket, but it is reasonable enough to establish that the small boy was given the remaining basket or shared them with the apostles who still had not eaten because they were busy sharing.

Sharing is an expression of Love. When we hear that we are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), we are simply being told that God gave us a share of His being. When we hear that God loved the world so much that he gave his son for our salvation, we are being told that God shared that which is so precious to with us. The kingdom of God is where we can be through an attitude of sharing. Jesus shared the word of God, he shared bread and finally shared his life so that we can live not just now but forever. If Jesus Christ is a sharer of the things listed above and we are his followers, it follows then that we should be sharers of his word, sharers of his life, sharers of our blessings and material possessions.

The world is rich enough but many people in the world are starving and homeless. There are still many people especially children who go to bed without food. The question is: “don’t we have food and shelter to share?” The obvious truth is that there are many people out there who have so much to throw away and on the other hand there are so many others you have nothing to eat. Our refuse collection points boasts of loads of discarded food items and other commodities, while so many stomachs are starving. There are many uninhabited mansions and accommodations, while most street corners and sidewalks are filled with the homeless.

There is call on us today to reproduce the caring and sharing Jesus and the small boy with five loaves of bread and two fish starting from our neighbourhood. There is a clarion on us to reflect the faith and optimism of Andrew while eschewing the “impossibility state-of-mind of Philip. Our world can be a better place if we decide to share.

Fr. Bonnie

(fatherbonny@hotmail.com)

One Comment on “THE GOSPEL OF SHARING: HOMILY FOR THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR (B) REV. FR. BONIFACE NKEM ANUSIEM PH.D

  1. Thank you Fr. May Christ strenghten your zeal for His work….

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