Reflection for Sunday, July 30, 2000: 17th week in Ordinary Time.
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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
The Book of Kings, from which we hear in today's First Reading, is a celebration of God's wonderful working through the holy leaders of the people. Elisha has just done such a deed. A group of prophets was sitting around and Elisha asks a servant to gather some herbs for a soup. The servant picks an unknown grain and puts it in the pot. When it is tasted, they all cry, "death is in the pot." Elisha throws some different weed in and all is tasty once more.|What we hear today follows this story. There is a famine in the land and little to eat. The prophets are offered twenty loaves of bread from the new harvest. Elisha says, give it to the people and after a small dispute the bread is given to the people. After the people had eaten, there was some left over.|The writer of John's Gospel knows well the story of Elisha and presents Jesus here at the beginning of this chapter six, from which we will be reading for the near future. This story is similar to the Gospel we heard last Sunday from Mark. Jesus crosses the lake with His disciples and a large crowd follows them. Jesus sees them and then asks Philip about how are all these people to be fed.|This is one more example of John's setting up a tension with an apparently impossible situation. One other place, they had no wine. Jesus, seeking a drink, was told He had no bucket. Now there is no bread. Wait! There is a lad, who has five loaves and two fish, "but what good are these for so many." It is near the Feast of Passover and Jesus is about to do something great with something so small, which involves taking bread, giving thanks and giving it to all who believed. He then took the two fish and did the same with them. As with Elisha, there were leftovers which filled twelve baskets. Each of us is an apparently impossible reality. We are the person who had so little considering the immensity of the need. There are few tasks which we accomplish without wishing we had done more or better. The more loving we are, the more we wish we could do. Raising a family, teaching a class, serving the sick and needy and laboring for peace and justice in this world, are all full of deep wishing and hopes. What are you and I among such great tasks of life?|Seeing this great sign, moves the people to want to make Jesus king. He slips away from them and goes off to be by Himself. He has given them and us a sign that we are to become, ourselves, signs and sacraments of His loving presence. The rest of this chapter is full of arguments about just what does all this mean. We enter into that argument often when we are dominated by the question about what good are we among so much to be done.|If He allowed them to make Him king, then He would do everything. Jesus' making them and us, His body enters us into His labor of reclaiming this world as His Kingdom. The Eucharistic Presence of Jesus depends, in a large part, upon the faith of the celebrating community. The reality of that Presence depends on our living with and through the apparently impossible task of being so much with what seems so little. Jesus gave thanks for the "little" and gave many so much through it that there was an abundance when all had eaten. While it is a great act of faith to believe in Jesus' presence in what seems so little, so fragile, it is a greater act of faith and humility to believe that each of us is ordained by Baptism and the Eucharist, to continue His presence in the midst of so great a labor. We are sent to bring about His Kingdom. What are you among so many? To what do you say "Amen" when receiving the Eucharist, His sending you, and His going with you. With the Eucharist, He makes company with us, literally, "bread-withing." Go in peace to love and serve the Lord with the little you are and the much He makes of you.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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