life, death and the 17th Sunday of ordinary time


The multiplication of the loaves and fishes is a gospel story full of meaning, it is a miracle that can be interpreted on many levels. The first reading from the Book of Kings brings to mind that the story describes Jesus in a historical context, likening Him to the Old Testament prophets. The Apostles at this stage of their discipleship had not yet learned who the Christ truly is, they begin to see Him as a prophet.

Jesus had just finished healing many and was to withdraw when the crowd followed Him. The question posed to the disciple, and that also refers to us today, is how that many people would be fed. To that question, their is first the answer of the novice disciple; there is not enough to meet these peoples needs.  Christ’s response though is that God provides abundantly for the people. Christ’s message is one of Eucharist or Thanksgiving. God provides.Does God provide abundantly, yes or no?

“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.”

Even today, these two views of life are relevant. On one hand there is that negative outlook of there not being enough resources , versus the positive outlook of God provides. Both, I think, can be exploited for good or bad. To look at a good outlook turned bad, God provides can introduce an element of complacency or laziness. One can run the risk of apathy, but even for that God provides. Along with the food, God provides the hunger. God provides. Does God provide abundantly, yes or no? Ask, and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.

Look now at the propaganda that the Lord does not provide. Where does the disciples initial response lead? What happens when “We can not feed these people” What happens when God does not provide, and therefore man must take charge? What type of culture does that lead to?

Pope Francis has been talking a lot about the poor. His discussion on that topic hints that those struggling do not have enough, and they strongly suggest that those with an abundance of resources should be more generous. To the rich, there is the fear that God will not replenish their basket once they give their contents to others. There is the fear that they will become slaves to the poor. God though provided them with an intellect, one that allowed them to accumulate wealth. Do they then think God will not provide a rationale for accommodating those struggling in a humane and dignified manner? Perhaps some spend too much time dwelling on the Lords opponent. Such is the nature of propaganda, such is the nature of the devil. It is the peddling of fear rather than thanksgiving. Does God provide abundantly, yes or no?

“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,

Another great area of the culture of fear gaining ground over a culture of thanksgiving has been in societies attitudes towards the unborn. To the fear mongers, the abortionists, there is that propaganda notion again of God will not provide and therefore we must do something. They are in the news again, this time for profiting from aborted fetus body parts. They provide death, while God inspires life. There is that current culture of death versus the culture of life. God provides in abundance, and how do we show our thanksgiving?

In this bible passage, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, God provides in abundance for our needs. The passage also amply illustrates that we do not always recognize that plain fact. We are often duped into thinking that there is not enough to go around. Often though that fear is propagated by those hoarding Gods plenty. Both fear and thanksgiving can be propagated, both can be multiplied. One the culture of death, the other of life. Who do we listen to? What do we do with the Lords generosity?  Who are we listening to? There are after all two voices speaking, and only one is the Lords.Does God provide abundantly, yes or no?

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