17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – 2009 2 Kings 4:42-44
A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God, twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.” “For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'” And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the Lord had said.
Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his 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. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
For the last couple of Sundays we have heard the Scriptures speaking to us about teaching authority in the community of believers. Now we come to teachings about food, but these teachings are also about teaching in the Church. We can all understand that teaching and feeding are similar. With teaching, someone gives us something and we take it within ourselves and make it our own—which means that we accept what has been taught. When someone feeds us, we are given food and take it within ourselves and it become us—which means that the food was good and nourished us.
The first reading today, from the Second Book of Kinds, tells us about the Prophet Elisha. A man comes to him with some fresh bread and Elisha tells him to give it to the people. The man is convinced that it will not be enough, but Elisha tells him that it will be quite enough and that there will be leftovers. Because we Christians are generally at least somewhat familiar with the stories of Christ’s life, we can recognize that our Lord Jesus does this same type of action.
Today’s Gospel from Saint John then gives us the story about Christ and the multiplication of food. It is the same story: there is enough food and even food left over. Both Jesus and Elisha had this incredible confidence in God and in God’s presence and in God’s capacity to act.
We do not know what went on within Elisha or what went on within Jesus. What kinds of thoughts they had we do not know. What we do know is that they continue to teach us to trust in the Lord. They teach us to know that we will always have enough and even a little left over. They teach us to rely on God’s providence in our own lives and also in God’s teachings.
When we lack food, let us call on the Lord. When we lack teaching, let us call on the Lord. When we don’t know our way in life, let us call on the Lord. When we have sinned, let us call on the Lord. When we doubt, let us call on the Lord. Always and in every circumstance, we can call on the Lord with confidence and trust. Our God shows Himself as a God who loves us and who will be present in our lives if we ask Him to be present.
We can admire Elisha and we can worship Jesus. The lesson is that we are called to be like them and grow in this deep trust of God’s presence in our lives. May we have courage today and call on the Lord.