The Bishops Homily – 17 Sunday Ordinary Time 2018

17 Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 9/07/18
2 Kings 4: 42-44
Eph. 4: 1-6 2
John 6: 1-15

INTRODUCTION: John’s Gospel does not have the Narrative of The Institution of the Eucharist as in the Synoptics. Instead, he tells the Story of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes in John 6 which will be for the next several Sundays (17th up to 21st) a sustained meditation on the meaning of the Mass and the Eucharist. Our passage for today, when read symbolically, explains the major movements of the Mass.

(1) Jesus is crossing the Sea of Galilee and a large crowd followed him, impressed describes Jesus’ magnetic attractiveness. “From age to age you gather a people to yourself so that from East to West a perfect sacrifice is offered.” The gathering at Mass is a function of the on-going attractiveness of Jesus, undiminished till the present age. At Mass, the gathering of people from all walks of life is a symbol of the coming together of God’s Kingdom — the Church.

Jesus climbed the hillside (mountain): Many times the mountain is a symbol of man’s going up to the Divine and God’s reaching down to man. The mountain is a symbol of the Meeting of Divinity and Humanity. Every Mass is a place of encounter between God and man; a sacred meeting place with God.

And he sat down with his disciples: sitting down, not standing up on a podium, is the posture of a teacher with his disciples in the ancient world. Jesus sits with his disciples learning. After we gather for Mass, we sit at his feet and we learn from him. This is the Liturgy of the Word.

It was shortly before the Jewish Feast of Passover: This little detail could not escape what Mass is all about — liberation from slavery that the Passover Feast reminds. Every Mass is a kind of Passover.

(2) Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat? Jesus senses the people are hungry. The whole human race is coming to Jesus hungry which it tries to fill up by other ways of power, wealth, pleasure which do not satisfy. Too much of these even plenty of these will not satisfy.

The little that Jesus gives (5 barley loaves and 2 fish) suffices to satisfy so many. Jesus takes what little we give. This is Holy Communion: tiny piece of bread filling up so many. Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and gave them out to all; he did the same with the fish. The Eucharistic rhythm is clear: take, give thanks, eat/drink, and give away. Only food which is substantial presence of Jesus satisfies; the others which are plenty do not. This is heavenly food is Holy Communion.

(3) Pick up the pieces left over so that nothing gets wasted: This is what we do in the Eucharist after Communion. We gather the left over and take them to the sick and the rest to the Tabernacle.

And they filled twelve baskets with scraps: we bear the food to the newly fed and satisfied twelve Tribes of Israel.

CONCLUSION: Friends, John is teaching here on a central theme of Catholic Dogma quite innocently but truly!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches