17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fil-Mission Sunday

First reading: 2 Kgs. 4:42–44

A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God, twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.” “For thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’” And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the LORD had said.

Second reading: Eph. 4:1–6

Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Gospel: Jn. 6:1–15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

In other words Fr. Bar Fabella, SVD (St. Joseph’s Parish, Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro)

I was surprised to see their altar with a “new look,” simple but beautifully designed to fit the solemn environment. That was in one of our pamayanan (or community) chapels where I am now assigned. I remember, it was just maybe three months ago when I suggested to the community’s leadership about the possibility of improving the altar. And in so short a time, they were able to do it despite the financial requirement in finishing such a beautiful project. 

I also noticed for the first time, to a certain degree, that the singing seemed a little livelier than usual. So, I thought, what’s happening? Does it have anything to do with the new altar? Did it somehow influence their mood? So, in my homily, I mentioned to them my observations. Everybody just smiled, probably wondering why as well.

The reading that day was Today’s Gospel, the multiplication of bread. I had to quickly connect this phenomenon to my reflection. I asked them if anyone could please come in front of the altar and sing the same entrance song that they had sung and sing it with the same energy. Nobody volunteered, even those who I knew were singers in the community. See, I told them, “miracles” can happen if we all open and give ourselves to something worthwhile for our community. With the little talent each one of us has, we can sing together as one and produce a beautiful sound for the Lord.

Just as we were able to construct a beautiful altar with our meager resources, miracles can happen if everyone is generous enough. Who knows? Maybe the real miracle that occurred during the multiplication of bread was the willingness of everyone to share what they brought along, inspired by that little boy who, without fear, shared the little he had. For sure, if we give everything for Christ, just like what the little boy did, no matter how meager it may seem to you or to others, with God’s divine power, great things can happen with our “five loaves and two fish.” 

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