Homily for the seventeenth Sunday of the year - Year B - Jn. 6:1-15


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

" After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.


" Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, 'How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?' This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, 'Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.' One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 'There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?' Jesus said, 'Make the people sit down.' Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, 'Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.' So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.


" When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, 'This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!' Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself."




Homily:


" After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand."


It is one year before the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the paschal meal of the Last Supper. Jesus performs some miracles: he heals the sick, he casts out demons, he calms the wind and quiets the storm. All of this is done in order to make an impression on our minds, to make us understand that this man whom the people see is not only a man, but also God: the Son of God in person! Certainly, Jesus wants to do much good for everyone he meets, he wants to bring aid and relief to everyone in misery and infirmity. But most important of all is the conversion of hearts: Jesus wants us to believe in him, he wants all the men and women of the world to recognize him as God! This is why he performs miracles!


" Jesus said, 'Make the people sit down.' Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted."


The miracle performed here by Jesus is so fascinating that Saint Augustine, in his Treatise 24 on Saint John, would go so far as to say that the miracle of the multiplication of loaves is so unusual and exceptional that it eclipses, in our spirits, the daily actions of the Lord in our life, actions that are so great and prodigious that they can lead us to a very great veneration of the omnipotence of God, if we pay attention to them. Indeed, do not the perfect governance and order of the entire universe manifest the omnipotence of God in our lives even more than the feeding of five thousand people, which was something that was exceptional but which happened only a few times? Does not the Providence of God lead us to a deeper and more intimate faith, since it is always present to us?


" When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, 'This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!' "


Jesus is indeed the prophet who came into the world and who will return at the end of time! But do we truly believe this? If we were to examine our conscience, would we find that we have a faith that is deep enough to truly and sincerely believe that what Jesus did when he was with us is something that he can do again today, if he wishes, through his Spirit who is here and who watches over our daily lives? Who would deny that what Christ had done once, he can do again, for example today? Could someone who calls himself a Christian and who believes in Christ deny that the omnipotence of God is at work in his life, now and every day that the Lord gives him? No, he cannot... On the contrary, every Christian must repeat what was spoken by the Jews of Christ's time: "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"


" Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself."


Jesus slips away from the crowd that wants to make him king. After the fame and glory he gained following his miracle, Jesus goes off by himself. He wants us to understand by this that the omnipotence of which he is the absolute master is destined, above all and especially, to an eternal success, and not to a temporal satisfaction. The omnipotence of God always manifests itself to us in the Cross and through the Cross, because it is this same Cross that is our power, as Saint Paul affirms: "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Cor. 1:18) So may today's communion, may this participation in the Sacrifice of the Cross, be for us the power of God! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, for whom the Almighty worked miracles, help us through her prayer!



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