The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
Psalm 145: 10-11
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
When you arise in the morning, do you praise God as the psalmist suggests? When you make ready for your day, do you pray that all your works give thanks to the Lord? When you arrive home from your daily routine, do you glorify God as you enter His house?
Are you confused by my questions? We are made by God for God and everything we have on this earth is from God, for our return to God. That is why I ask you these questions because I am not speaking about ownership in the manner of the civil law. Rather, I am querying you about God’s ownership who made heaven and earth and all within it.
My next question for you might frame this better. If you believe that all is from God, then your own home is God’s house. Your workplace is God’s place. All the people with whom you encounter are God’s people. How different would your attitude be if you, as a faithful one, blessed God all the day long?
The miracle in the Gospel of the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, is not so ‘ordinary’. “The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes” is the story about Jesus praising God and fulfilling what the psalmist has offered, “the hand of the Lord feeds us”. It is a story of faith of the people, believing that God knows our trouble and pain and will care for us. But it is also the story of the people’s action in salvation history. Think of Andrew, knowing of the ‘thousands’ who are hungry, who talks about five barley loaves and two fishes. Yes, he doubts how this will heal the dilemma at hand; yet, he has the courage to present the idea. Jesus takes the idea and thanks His Father for the small amount and it flourishes. Were there other participants in the miracle? Perhaps others rose to the occasion like Andrew and took out their own foodstuffs and shared them with others. Or perhaps some denied themselves because their hunger was not so great and they could sacrifice for the sake of another. Everyone participated so that everyone had their fill.
God sees our hunger and gives us food to survive in His kingdom, the one in which we live on this earth and to prepare for heaven. None of the miracles of Jesus are single events without consequence. Each one calls for us to believe and to live that belief. That is why we begin the celebration of Mass with the sign of the Cross, a sign of welcoming God into our heart, our soul. This welcome is not to be left in the sanctuary of the Church building, but to be the Church wherever we live, wherever we travel, wherever we are.
The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes is not a miracle that underlines, “everyone for him/herself”. It is a miracle of sharing. It is the Eucharist as Jesus has offered Himself for us that we might share Him with each other.
Pope Francis said, “Each time we approach the altar to receive the Eucharist, we must truly renew our “amen” to the Body of Christ. When the priest says, “the Body of Christ”, we say “amen”: but let it be an “amen” that comes from the heart, a committed one. It is Jesus; it is Jesus who saved me; it is Jesus who comes to give me the strength to live. It is Jesus, the living Jesus.
The theologian Tertullian (c AD 160-225) described the common practice of believers who marked themselves with the Sign of the Cross throughout the day: “In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our foreheads with the Sign of the Cross.”
Begin God’s day with the Sign of the Cross to center you on God. Rejoice that you have received the living Jesus. What a wonderful world this could be! May all our works give thanks to God.