Saturday, July 28, 2018

17th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 29.07.2018

2 Kings 4:42-44 / Ephesians 4:1-6 / John 6:1-15
Whenever we want to go for a meal, the big question is where to go. If we have friends who are “foodies”, as in they seem have in their minds a catalogue of places to eat somewhere, then they will surely recommend places and what to eat.

But in case we don’t have such friends (which is unlikely) then we can turn to our good friend “Google” and type in “hungry go where”, and we will be spoilt for choice.

But if we are hungry and lazy, then it’s not “hungry go where”. Now it’s “hungry call who?” With food delivery as a new option, there are no worries if we are hungry and lazy, because there are food delivery companies. 

And when we go to their websites, we see so many variety of food that it looks like some kind of buffet spread and we feel like trying everything in one go.

There are just so many choices, from Western to Indian, to Korean, from Chinese to Japanese, and there are also search options to look for some kind of popular dish. There are just so many choices that making a choice can be quite challenging. 

And once the order is placed, the food will be delivered in 30 to 45 minutes. So, if we are hungry and lazy, there are no worries. Just need to have money.

But the situation of the crowds in the gospel was quite different. They were hungry, they didn’t know where to go, they don’t know who to call and they had no money. It was a rather lousy situation to be in.

Yes, Jesus was there, but so far He had shown that He could cure the sick. But could He feed the hungry with just 5 barley loaves and two fish?

For a hungry person, he may be impressed with miraculous signs but the most impressive would be to place some delicious food before him. As it is often said, it may not be very effective to preach about God’s love to a hungry person. More effective would be to place food before him and that will be the sign of God’s love for him.

We read in the gospel that Jesus looked up and saw the crowds. He then asked Philip where to buy bread for the people to eat. We were told that this was to test Philip. Philip replied with not where but how much money was needed to buy the bread. Obviously we need not ask how many marks Philip scored for the “test”.

Jesus looked up and saw the hungry crowd. But He also looked up to His heavenly Father, the God of which the 1st reading quoted as saying: For the Lord says “They will eat and have some leftover.”

Jesus wanted to teach His disciples and the people that His heavenly Father will provide for them what they need, even when the odds are overwhelming.

We might think it is impossible but for God everything is possible. But just as God provides for us, He also expects us to be generous with what God has blessed us with.

We have these “5 loaves and 2 fish”. They may not be much and as Andrew said “what is that between so many?”

But with that Jesus looked up to heaven and with that small boy’s offering, the five thousand were fed.

It does sound impossible and some speculations say that others began to bring out what they had and so eventually there were more than enough.

But it is not so much how the bread was multiplied but why it was multiplied. It was a sign of God’s providence and care for His people and how generous God is with His blessings. 

And God also expects us to be generous with what He has given to us and that we share it with others too.

We may remember that back in 2015, it was a crunch time for the Church in Singapore. Three big churches were undergoing renovation – the Cathedral, Sts. Peter and Paul, Novena. At the same time, the Church of Transfiguration was being built.

We might think that it’s bad planning, but the fact is that it all happened at the same time. In retrospect, we can say that God did this to “test” the Church in Singapore, to see how generous we are in building God’s house.

Well, we have fared quite well, with the four churches renovated and built and the outstanding bills were paid.

Now the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese is appealing to our generosity for regular donations and this is to prepare the Church for the future. The projections are staggering, but again it is not impossible.

Just to share a short story about generosity.

There was a rich man who complained to his friend: “The people do not like me. They say I am stingy and greedy; but I have made my will and have willed my entire property to a charitable institution.” 

The friend replied: “A pig came to a cow and complained: ‘People speak so well of you. It is true you give milk. But they profit from me much more. They have meat and sausages of different types. Even my feet and hands they eat. Still nobody loves me as much as they love you. Why?’ 

The cow reflected and said: ‘Perhaps it is because of this: I give while I am alive.’ 

So let us not postpone the good and the generosity which we can do here and now.

God has blessed us with what we need. Let us also generously share God’s blessings with others.