Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!

The first reading today from the Book of Kings and our Gospel today from John’s Gospel address a similar concern: “How can we feed so many people with so little?  How can 20 barley loaves feed 100 people?  How can 5 loaves and 2 fish feed over 5000 people?”

 But the little that is shared is enough!

The miracles of today’s Scripture invite us to work miracles.  Miracles are not just the stuff of history.  Miracles are all around us, now.

Of note from today’s readings is the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish who is asked to share it all.  Which he does with that childlike faith, that innocent trust, in Jesus.  One can almost see Jesus come over to the little boy after everyone is fed and the leftovers fill 12 baskets, say to the child, “Thank you, I could not have done this without you;” and Jesus hands the boy a basket of leftover, “It is more than you gave.”  What does Jesus need us to assist with?

And there is St. Paul who urges his listeners, us, to live as people worthy of God’s invitation to be miracle workers.  And what will our miracles look like?

  • Gentleness with someone who does not deserve it.
  • Patience with someone who gets it nowhere else.
  • Preserving unity when division is the norm.

As we see in today’s readings, God can multiply our little bit in ways we do not always see…  Not just of money, but with time, effort, acceptance and understanding.

I read a story of a woman, Marie, in her late 50’s.  She cleans toilets at a major sports arena.  Every day she comes to work lugging through security 3 duffel bags bursting with plastic Tupperware.  She says little, never smiles, and is dressed in whatever she can find at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.

One day, a new Security Guard is on duty as Marie comes to work.  He gave Marie and her duffel bag of Tupperware the “all clear” and waves her through. After several days, the security guard asks, “excuse me, ma’am, I’m just curious… What are these containers for?”

Maria’s scowl quickly turns to a smile and she begins to tell her story.  Maria was homeless three years ago.  For years she lived under the highway overpass just a few miles from the arena.  She spent her time outside of work caring for a sick friend who can barely move on his own.  After, every game, Maria fills the Tupperware in her duffel bags with leftover chicken filet, burgers and other uneaten treats.  She brings it all to the homeless shelter where she used to stay.

“The reason I took this cleaning job was so I could have access to all this leftover food.”   Maria continues by sharing, “usually the arenas just throw the food away, but I know people would really enjoy it.”

The Security Guard is moved by Maria’s story and generosity.  “Maria, what keeps you going?  What sustains you?” asks the Guard.

“The goodness of people,” Maria says simply.  “It is like a shade when up on my window.”

“When I was homeless, all I could see what how bad I was inside and that I did not deserve a good life.  When the shade lifted, I could look outside myself.  I saw goodness that I never saw before.  I just believe in a loving God and I am doing my part to share the Good News.”

I just believe in a loving God and I am doing my part to share the Good News.