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Needing This Food

The 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today and for the next four Sundays the Gospel reading is taken from the sixth chapter of John, which is the bread of life discourse, so for about the next month we are going to be hearing and thinking a lot about the Eucharist. So today as we being this little summer journey, let’s spend some time finding a starting place. In the first reading the great prophet Elisha tells his servant to feed one hundred people with twenty loaves of bread, and his servant finds this so far beyond the realm of reasonable that he has to object. “How can I set this before a hundred people?” But Elisha assures him that the Lord has promised that the people would eat, be filled, and even have left overs. And so it happens. In the Gospel, Jesus has a crowd of five thousand and wants to feed them. Like Elisha’s servant, his apostles find this laughable. Philip points out it would take more than two hundred days wages to feed the crowd, and you can imagine the sarcasm in Andrews voice when he interjects a boy there had five loaves and two fish. But as we all know, the bread is broken, all are fed, and twelve baskets of left overs remained.

In the dialogs between Elisha and his servant and Jesus and his disciples, in the interaction of these readings, we see a free and open exchange. The servant of Elisha and the Apostles are believers who trust in the Lord, but they still feel free to express their hearts not so much in doubt as in wonder. How will we feed these people? So too in our own lives we should ask in wonder how we will accomplish the things entrusted to us. How will we comfort someone who lost a loved one? How will we care for elderly parents? How will we support a friend with addiction or mental illness? How will we teach our children what life is about? There will be many, many moments in life in which you stand before the impossible with empty hands, knowing that you are not equipped, that you are not ready, and that you do not know how things are going to work out.

That is what it means to need a savior. There is a hunger in our world, in our families, in the depths of our own hearts that we have been told to confront but that can only be fulfilled by Christ. And there, finally, is our starting point. The strengthening and forgiveness and love that you receive from the Eucharist is only limited by how open and desiring your heart is to receiving the presence of Christ in your own flesh and blood. Approach this altar in the wonder of how you are supposed to truly live as his disciple, with a heart yearning to see his promises fulfilled In time you will begin to find your life overflowing with his grace and transforming who you are in ways that you are not capable of.

There is a prayer that we say together just before beginning communion: “Lord, I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” As the next few weeks continue, I hope you will use that prayer as a reminder of this starting point of approaching the Eucharist in need and desire. In need because we are not worthy of this gift that has been given to us, in desire because it is the source of our healing. Only say the word Lord… and we will be healed.


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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.

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