Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 21 juillet 2021

Take and eat !

 Dix-septième dimanche du Temps Ordinaire — Année B   dans Catéchèse event_prenez-et-mangez-reunion-du-groupe-oecumenique-biblique-saint-eustache-oratoire-du-louvre_120_944337

# The multiplication of the loaves is the name given to two « miracles » performed by Jesus of Nazareth according to the texts of the Gospels: Matthew, chapter 14, verses 14-21, then again 15, 32-38; Mark 6, 34-44, then again Mark 8, 1-9; Luke 9, 12-17; John 6, 5-14. The first multiplication of the loaves takes place after the death of John the Baptist at the behest of Herod Antipas, in response to the wish of his daughter Salome, and the healing of the sick.

Later, a second multiplication of the loaves takes place involving a different number of people. Matthew and Mark are the only evangelists to record it. Some exegetes thought that it was the same event told twice. However, the two « miracles » did not take place in the same place, in one case there were five thousand people, in the other case four thousand. The number of excess baskets of bread was also different.

Jesus later referred to the two miracles, clearly distinguishing them (Mt 16:9-11). For the Doctor of the Church John Chrysostom, Jesus in this miracle effectively posed as the creator of heaven and earth. He encouraged people to pray before eating and wanted to show the importance of sharing. Modern theologians would say that the multiplication of the loaves is a symbol of the Word given by Christ, a Word that has nourished people for centuries.

For St Ephrem, in this miracle Jesus gave generously without counting the cost. He gave so much that twelve baskets remained. The saint also compared Jesus to Moses, who fed the people freed from slavery with manna from heaven. For Benedict XVI, in the Angelus of 31 July 2011, this messianic gesture is a symbol of fraternal sharing, but also a symbol of the path that the apostles will have to follow, namely transmitting the Good News.

In the Angelus of 29 July 2012, Benedict XVI stressed that this multiplication is the beginning of the Eucharist, which continues to this day. According to some theological interpretations, it prefigures the Last Supper, Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, establishing the rite of the Eucharist in which the bread embodies the body of Jesus, given as a sacrifice on the cross to save humanity. For historians, the events evoked by the evangelists in these two accounts remain enigmatic, although some hypotheses have been put forward.

From the Gospel according to John

01 After these things, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, to the Lake of Tiberias. 02 A great crowd followed him, because they had seen the signs he performed on the sick. 03 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down with his disciples there. 04 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. 05 Jesus looked up and saw that a great crowd was coming to him. He said to Philip, « Where can we buy bread for them to eat? « 06 He said this to test him, for he knew what he was about to do. 07 Philip replied, « Two hundred days’ wages would not be enough for everyone to have some bread.

08 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 09 « There is a boy there who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what is this to so many people? « . 10 Jesus said, « Make the people sit down. There was a lot of grass. So they sat down, about five thousand of them. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to the people at table, and gave them as much fish as they wanted. 12 When they had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, « Pick up the extra pieces, so that nothing may be lost.

13 So they gathered them together and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves that were left over for those who took this food. 14 When the people saw the sign that Jesus had performed, they said, « This is truly the prophet who was announced, the one who is coming into the world. 15 But Jesus knew that they were coming to take him away to make him their king; so he withdrew back to the mountains alone. (Jn 6, 1-15)

Jesus feeds the crowd

When Jesus had crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, he went up the mountain and sat down with his disciples. He was followed by all his fans, eager for signs and healings.  Seeing the large crowds coming to him, Jesus felt immense compassion and pity for the people, who expected everything from him. Jesus saw the needs of the people. The miracle he performed was an act of love.  Jesus said to Philip :  « Where can we buy bread for them to eat ? « 

This question is still relevant today. Jesus is asking us to look at the most natural needs of the people: that they have something to eat! He is saying : simply to eat ! Jesus takes us back to our daily life, to our daily bread. To love… It is there, in the ordinary services of our day, that we must love.

In that crowd there was a boy who had five barley loaves and two fish. He had provisions and the others had nothing to eat. Jesus was struck by the misery of the crowd and performed a miracle. Before Saint Vincent de Paul, before the Abbé Pierre, before Coluche, he launched the first Restos du Coeur. He served the crowd a free meal: bread and fish, without skimping on quantity : the leftovers filled twelve baskets !

fter feeding our minds and hearts, Jesus knows that we must first feed our bodies. We must never forget this basic need: to give food! This priority for the poor, of which Pope John Paul II spoke, is a profoundly evangelical attitude : « I give you this bread because I love you. « 

Jesus wants us to discover in the multiplication of the loaves the proclamation of the Eucharist. Thus, in this story, we were close to the feast of the Passover, the date of the Last Supper and the sacrifice of the cross: Jesus took the bread and gave thanks (this is the word « Eucharist ») and distributed it as he did on the evening of Holy Thursday. The order given to Philip to take bread to feed the crowd, and the presence of the apostles filling twelve baskets with the remaining pieces, is an allusion to the Church being invited to distribute the Bread of Life (the Eucharist) to the people.

All eyes are on you : they hope and you give them food in due time ; when you open your hand, you fill and satisfy all the living » (Psalm 144).  In every Eucharistic celebration, we are invited to this same gesture of giving that God can multiply. Do we realise that we are guests at the table of the Lord? This Gospel story is a call to generosity and sharing. But it also tells us that nothing is insignificant, and that we must never be discouraged by the weakness of our means. Let us offer our small capacities to the Lord, and he will know how to multiply them.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Fathert Hanly ; click here to read the paper → Homily for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

◊ Monastery of the Bénédictine Abbay in the desert  Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

  Fr Mark Franklin : « Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time »

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