Jesus Our Shepherd

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
26 July 2009

Homily
Mary Styne

I love summer picnics and potlucks! Don’t you? I always marvel at what a miracle they are! Usually, someone says, I’ll supply the hamburger, or chicken or whatever and everyone bring a “little” something to go with it. IT NEVER FAILS! There is always a great variety of food including desserts and ALWAYS enough that there are leftovers! A MIRACLE!

This thought came home to me when I asked a few people—actually, the people were part of the group from the Repairers of the Breach which is the choir that’s coming to sing with us in the Fall—what they would want to say if they were preaching this homily on the multiplication of the loaves this Sunday? After some consideration, one of the women said, this (pointing to the extravagant tables of food and drink) We all just brought a dish of something and look what’s here! INDEED! A MIRACLE!

The Italians have a word for this-- ABUNDANZE! ABUNDANZE. It means abundance! Although Jesus didn’t speak Italian, Jesus was always telling us that there is always an abundance with God!—Always an abundance.

For the next few weeks we are going to be hearing readings that point to how God always feeds the people! In the Old.Testament today, we find Elisha feeding 100 people with little resources. Then we consider our Gospel. It finds Jesus moved by compassion-- –a compassion that requires that somehow he must feed the throngs of people that have come to hear him speak of his ABBA GOD and maybe to do another miracle.

Jesus tells the disciples to buy food to feed the crowd. And, like we sometimes do, Philip is worried that it’ll take too much money to feed all these people. (Philip expresses Scarcity) Andrew suggests that there is a boy with some fish and bread who has offered to share but he assures Jesus that this will not be enough either. (Can’t you almost see Jesus’ face--- full of compassion, thinking, “these guys still don’t get it “) But, he simply instructs them to have the people sit on the grassy hillside and to bring him the boy with the fishes and loaves. When the folks are all settled and the boy brings his fish and bread, Jesus BLESSES THE BREAD, GIVES THANKS and the food is distributed. Just like Elisha in our Old Testament story, we are told that there were plenty of leftovers!

I suspect when the boy’s fish were shared, others began to share -kinda like a big pot luck!!! ABUDANZE! A MIRACLE! A miracle that we reenact every time we give thanks and share the bread.

Now, how does this work, we might ask? There are not only hungry people in our local communities--- maybe more now, than ever—but huge problems of hunger in the world brought on by a myriad of reasons---war, petulance, polluted waters under developed land, over used land, and, poverty, itself. Not to mention the poverty brought on by our global economic crisis causing thousands to die of starvation

Now, we symbolically enact the bread sharing but in this story this morning, Jesus calls us to share “our” bread just as the people did on that hillside so long ago.

Do you know that to satisy the world’s sanitation and food requirements, it would cost only $13 Billion US DOLLARS? Does that sound like a lot of money?-- ( Well, that’s what the people of the the U.S. and the European union spend on PERFUME in a year---- )

We find ourselves in the tightest economic situation in the US than we have been in for ALMOST 70 years! Few of us remember those times. A heck of a time to be talking about sharing. Yet, Jesus promises ABUNDANCE. Our FAITH calls us to believe in the abundance of God not the scarcity of Philip and Andrew. We are are being invited I think, to share in ways that most of us have not done in recent times.

For those of you who are able, get to a computer and google “World Hunger” I don’t ask you to do this to make us feel guilty but rather to help us be aware of the hunger problems locally and in the world at large. ( Do you remember your parents telling you to eat your beans because some poor child in China was starving?) That image was rather removed for us but today with television, ipods, and internet these images are made to come home to us much more graphically and realistically.

Many of the computer sites say that the solution to world hunger isn’t handouts to hungry people but rather helping people to become self sufficient—to feed themselves. Jesus calls us to that compassionate place. A place where we understand that clean water and fresh food is a HUMAN RIGHT for ALL peoples. We are called to make this happen. There are plenty of ways to encourage our legislators to help people feed themselves. The computer sites help us to learn of the many agencies that work to solve world hunger problems. (Look up KAVA as one example.)

Then, I suggest we PRAY. I don’t mean pray in the sense that we can’t do anything else but PRAY as if humanities life depends on it! I truly believe that being mindful of a situation helps us to become more compassionate. And, compassion will help us to care more deeply about our earth and its peoples.

And, I believe that our Creator God, the Source of All Being hears those prayers and responds in kind with more COMPASSION and more ABUNDANCE!

ABUNDANZE!!