The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
29 July 2018 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church in Moore, OK
2 Kings 4, 443-44 + Psalm 145 + Ephesians 4, 1-6 + John 6, 1-15
There is someone in this Gospel today who says nothing. Because Jesus, Andrew and Philip do tall he talking, it is easy to ignore his presence. There is young boy in these verses who very is important and he is worth some reflection and wonder. Without him, there would be no story. Without him there would be no wonderful sign worked to draw people to faith. He has no name which in Gospel literature is always important. Having no name makes it possible for us to stand in his place.
There is no way of knowing how or why Andrew noticed the boy, but perhaps five loaves of bread over and above two fish might be hard to hide. Even the appetite of a growing young boy would probably not need five loaves. He clearly had more than he needed that afternoon. John records no conversation between the boy and Jesus. All we know is that he surrendered what he had to Jesus and something extraordinary happened.
Even before five thousand were fed, and before twelve baskets of left overs were collected, there is something that leaves us to wonder about what happens when someone who has enough or even more than enough sees a need and responds to the request of Jesus to surrender it all. It brings to my mind another young man who came running up to Jesus asking what he must do to be saved. When Jesus asks him to sell what he has and give it to the poor, he walks away sad. I’ve always thought that what was lacking in that young man was imagination. He simply could not imagine living without all his stuff. In contrast to that young man stands this boy face to face with Jesus willing to surrender everything he has knowing that there were five thousand hungry people behind him. I doubt that he could ever have imagined what was about to happen, but that did not keep him from handing over all that he had.
Without a word said, that boy speaks to us today. He speaks to a people who have more than enough, more than they need. In a world that is hungry and thirsty, homeless and lonely, that young boy shows us how to create abundance. In that unrecorded conversation with Jesus, I suspect that Jesus never said: “Keep some for yourself.” I think Jesus asked for it all. With childlike faith, that boy trusted and gave without a worry about going hungry himself. He could have stood on the sidelines watching, or like those other disciples said: “It isn’t enough”, but he didn’t.
We are reminded today about how life flourishes when virtues are practiced. In a world of both over-consumption on the part of some, and suffering and hunger on the part of many, we are reminded about living simply and virtuously, and what can happen when we know we have enough and turn over to Christ everything we have. As this chapter will continue for the next several weeks, we will discover that Jesus never came to feed us on bread, but to satisfy our hungers with his Body and Blood.