Sunday, 29 July 2012

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, Shaftesbury

Jn 6:1-5; 2 Kgs 4:42-44
In the Church, we start today 5 week series of Sundays (Weeks 17-21, Year B) where the readings are all about the Eucharist. The Eucharist is God’s greatest gift to us because it is His very self that He gives to us, and during the coming weeks I’m going to draw out some of the quite varied parts of that. But I want to start, as the readings today direct us, to start by focusing on the simple fact that God PROVIDES for us –the Eucharist being the key SPIRITUAL provision He makes for us.
In the Gospel we just heard of how Jesus fed the 5000
But I want to point something out to you: the people did not come to Jesus looking for food.

In the Gospel, the people didn’t get fed because they demanded food from Jesus –
There were times in the gospels when they DID demand food, and demand signs, and Jesus then refused (e.g. Mt 12:39).
They got fed in this case because what they demanded was Jesus Himself. He is the one that life is all about, He is the one who created us, He is the one who came to save us, to shows us what life is truly about. The life we seek with Him lasts for eternity in heaven, it doesn’t just fade away like an old TV screen.
“Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God”(Mt 6:33), and these other things will be added too.
The crowds flocked to Jesus because they saw this. They flocked to Him with such eagerness that they went out into the wilderness to be with Him,
with such eagerness that they didn’t think to take food for the body.
And if we’re honest this is rarely our own attitude to the Lord: I can grumble about waking up early in the morning to come down to pray to Him, or about other ways in which going to be with Him ‘interferes’ with my life.
What we NEED is to seek the Lord first.

Having the Lord provide for us is only something that comes about in a secondary way, and in this there is a big principle of the spiritual life. It’s possible for us to spend all our time demanding THINGS of God, praying just for material things –and they may be important material things, but focusing on the material things.
And if we do this, we may get some of these things we need. But we’re putting the cart before the horse, we’re valuing our passing body more than our eternal soul.

This Gospel text, and the first reading that is a foreshadowing of it by the miracle of Elisha, these readings remind us that it is a PERSON who provides for us in life: it’s the Lord. Jesus provided food for the crowds, to feed them even before they seem to have asked for food –the apostles were asking, but the people didn’t seem to have asked yet.
And Jesus fed them so abundantly that there were 12 baskets left over (Mt 14:13-21).
And it is that PERSON that we must seek before all else.

Life is not always easy,
We have times when we are in need, in many different ways,
But the providence of God promises to watch over us in all things, promises that His plan guides us in all things: “all things work to the good for those who love the Lord” (Rom 8:28)
He doesn’t promise an easy life: there will be trials and tribulations. But as St. Paul says, “these are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of Him who loved us”(Rom 8:35ff). If we seek to be close to Him, then He will remain with us, and He will feed us today as He fed the crowds so long ago.

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