Homily – July 25, 2021

XVII Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year B

Who do you follow … on the news, sports, social media, celebrities … who do you follow? Most of us have a favorite athlete, news anchor, YouTube or Instagram or Facebook persona … we have people that we follow. We like their talent, their politics, their message … they’re attractive to us …

Notice in John’s Gospel the reason that he mentions they are following Jesus … because of the signs they saw Him perform on the sick. It is interesting to me … its not really His message or His teaching but rather it’s the miracles that grab them…

I find that for many of us it’s a bit of the opposite … it’s not the miracles but the message … We often try to live by the principles of Christianity but are somewhat dismissive of the miracles that happen right before our eyes. For example – notice Jesus’ own concern for the people in the Gospel – “where can we get enough food for them to eat?” We too have a deep concern for those who lack the necessities of everyday life – food, shelter, clothing … we have a deep concern to right wrongs, to combat injustices, and to come to the aid of the less fortunate … We do so at times in a way that is dismissive of the other aspects and teachings that make up the whole of Christianity. What am I getting at … Jesus is sending us a message here that our concern for the well-being of others must be two-fold … it is a concern for the material and spiritual – for others and for ourselves. The feeding of the 5,000 – which is recorded in all 4 gospels, twice in Mark – is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist … He is telling us that at the very heart of the Christian faith is the Eucharist – as we say in the Our Father “our daily bread” … daily bread is more than just food to sustain our lives it is food for the soul, food that sustains our faith. And this miracle happens every day on our altars… If we miss out, if we distance ourselves from the greatest miracle of all how are we exactly to show a true concern for our fellow human being? If we only feed the body but disregard the soul what are we but glorified humanitarians …

Jesus sets the stage on the gospel today to teach us something about Himself … to show us that which is attractive about Him – that He has the power to feed … both physically and spiritually. He shows that it is within His power to perform miracles – and this miracle foreshadows the greatest one of all … the transformation of bread and wine into His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity… This is not a symbol, this is not a joke … this is real. It is really Him. This must be the reason we call ourselves Catholics – this must be the reason for putting into practice the principles of Christianity – this must be the reason for following Christ… because only when we gather around this altar, only when we take Him in can we then begin to truly feed others …

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