Reflections this 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
How The Little That We Have Can Be More For Others
The way to multiply God’s gifts in us for greater and more effective service to others is to unite with others of the same heart and mind in offering them to the service of God.
2 Kings 4:42-44. Feeding Others With the Abundance of God’s Resource
A man brings offering to God, represented by Elisha. It is a kind of tithe; it acknowledges the ownership of God to one’s resources. The offering takes on a new level of power and ability. Elisha ordered that it be used to feed the people. He returned it back to do a service of providing for God’s people. Because the offering entered the realm of God’s dominion its power and ability was magnified.
Ephesians 4:1-6. One God and Father of All Works in All
St. Paul exhorted the Ephesian believers to live according to God’s calling. It means allowing the spirit – God’s wisdom and power – manifest to a life of dedicated love for another. The result is that God is able to effectively work through all and in all. As in the offering to God in the 1st reading, so it is when the people of God submits itself to the realm of God’s dominion. God becomes over all and work through all and in all; that is, the life of the community takes on a higher level of power and effective love.
John 6:1-15. Feeding of the Multitude as Sign of God at Work
Why the feeding of the multitude? The gospel says it is a sign, a sign of a deeper or higher reality or principle, expressed by the people’s affirmation that the Lord Jesus is the prophet who has come into the world. When the divine principle operates a higher or deeper reality is effectively manifested.
Becoming God’s Word
Time and again, persons who take God seriously enough to let his wisdom and spirit shape their hearts and minds enter heightened level of experience characterized by power, vibrant living and effectiveness both in quality and intensity of life and service.
In the first reading we see an example of an individual offering being used by God to do something greater than what its prior ability appraised from human perspective. It is not for us to speculate how it happens or find a scientific or logical reason for how it happened or even whether it happened at all. What the scripture proposes for us is to see the truth God reveals and to accept, live and act on it. That is easy when one acts with faith or at least has an experimental faith – a willingness to act on one’s perceived or received word, inspiration or direction from God. An example is taking on a project one feels with some degree of assurance as inspired by God though one has initially limited resource. Another example is helping another person or family whose need is great even one has only limited resource. Experimental faith means being willing to do something even in a limited way and watching what happen. We can be surprised how something greater happens or something creatively new comes about from the little resource that we use to help others.
In the letter of Paul to the Ephesian community he taught the principle applied in an individual level to a group or community level. The same principle applies. We need to enter into another realm of reality – the spiritual or divine reality. And the key principle in the community level is the principle of oneness or unity: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” As a people, taking on the mind of the one God and Lord instead of our individual disparate thoughts and wills and acting on God’s word as a community will have an even greater magnified effect or result than the individual’s action alone.
The Lord shows, through the multiplication of the bread, that another realm of reality exist than what our senses perceive or human mind appraise. As more and more people accept this reality in their minds, hearts and actions the more this reality – the Kingdom of God – become operationally active, revealed and powerful in more and more people’s lives. When individually and collectively we manifest the greater power and result of God’s infusion of his power in the ordinary things that we do, the more will other people see, accept and eventually experience and live this reality.
Whether by what ‘little’ others have done with love for me (and my family) and trust in God and what ‘little’ I have done with love for others and trust in God, experimental faith in action revealed in an indubitable way that the above is a reality in truth and in fact.