25 July 2021 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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First Reading: 2 kings 4:42-44

A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord. 

Second Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6

I, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Gospel: John 6:1-15

Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee,  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover festival was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Jesus, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Reflection

This is the famous “Eucharistic Discourse” and begins with the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. A line of the Psalm gives the meaning of today’s readings: “The eyes of all creatures look to you (O God) and you give them their food in due time.” Our God is the God who provides for his people; the prosperity and fruitfulness of our earth and the mysterious cycles of nature ensures that all have what they need – and have some left over. The actions of Elisha and Jesus are in a sense prophetic: many would say that there is not enough food in this world to go round, just as the two sets of disciples complain that there is not enough for the hundred or the five thousand. But the prophetic action states that this is not true: God provides what is needed. This might prompt us to think about the unfair and unequal distribution of the fruits of the earth: the miracle is a sign of the Kingdom of God – what God wants the world to be like. Perhaps we should take the message of the miracle to heart this Sunday and think about the multitude that still sits in hunger in our world today.                         

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