17th Sunday of the Year
2 Kings 4:42–44; Ephesians 4:1–6; John 6:1–15

Loaves and Fish
If we give what we have to Jesus, he can multiply it beyond our greatest expectations.

Jay Kesler has written a book called Growing Places.
He tells how one night he was on a plane descending into an airport in India.

As the plane touched down, he noticed the bodies of sleeping people lining both sides of the runway. When Jay asked about this, someone told him these were homeless people.

The person explained that during the day, the runway soaked up heat. Then at night it acted as a warm radiator to protect the people from the cold.

After Jay deplaned and picked up his baggage,  he took a bus to a nearby city. The bus arrived after midnight.  As Jay walked down the deserted street to his hotel,  he saw poverty all around him.

Then suddenly he heard a strange sound: thump scrape, thump scrape, thump scrape. He turned and saw a boy whose legs were cut off almost to his body. The boy was propelling himself along with two tiny crutches.

When the boy reached Jay, he held out his hand. Jay gave him all the loose change he had. Then Jay continued on to his hotel.

Jay hadn’t taken ten steps when he heard another strange sound. He turned around and saw several beggars hitting the boy with his own crutches. They were trying to force the boy to give them his coins.

Jay said he didn’t sleep that night.

One day a middle-aged woman came into the midst of this poverty and cruelty. She saw the tragic situation and said to herself, “Something’s got to be done.”

She took all the money she had and rented an old building with a dirt floor. The building wasn’t much, but it would do.

The next day the woman went around the neighborhood and offered to teach the children.

She used the old building as her schoolroom. She had no desks, no chairs, no table. Her chalkboard was the dirt floor.
She rubbed it smooth with an old rag and wrote on it with a stick.

That was the way the woman fought back against the poverty and cruelty around her. It was a pathetic response,
but it was the best she could do.

Whatever happened to that woman and her undertaking?

Today she has 80 fully equipped schools, 300 modern mobile dispensaries, 70 leprosy clinics, 30 homes for the dying,
30 homes for abandoned children, and 40,000 volunteers, worldwide, helping her.

The woman, of course, is Mother Teresa.

I can’t think of a better story to illustrate the point of today’s first reading and today’s gospel reading. Take the gospel reading.

The boy had five loaves and two fish. Jesus asked him for them to feed the crowd. The boy gave them to Jesus,
and Jesus did the rest. He fed over 5,000 people.

That’s what Mother Teresa did too. She gave Jesus her “loaves and fish,” and Jesus did the rest. He multiplied them way beyond her dreams.

The story of Mother Teresa,
the story of the man in today’s first reading,
the story of the boy in today’s gospel—all three stories make the same point.

It’s the point that Pope John Paul II made to the young people in Edinburgh during his visit to Scotland in 1982.
The pope said to them:

“Now the point I wish to make is this: [The boy in the gospel]
gave all that was available, and Jesus miraculously fed those 5,000 people and still had enough left over.

“It is exactly the same with your lives. Left alone to face the difficult challenges of life today, you feel conscious of your own inadequacy and afraid of what the future may hold for you. But what I say to you is this:

“Place your lives in the hands of Jesus. he will accept you and bless you, and he will make use of your lives in a way that exceeds your greatest expectation.”

Today’s readings invites us to look into our hearts and to ask ourselves this question: How much of our lives and our resources are we currently placing in the hands of Jesus to do with as he wishes?

To what extent are we giving of ourselves and our resources
as Mother Teresa did,
as the man in today’s first reading did,
as the boy in today’s gospel did?

In today’s gospel Jesus is saying to us:

“I need your talent.
I need your generosity.
I need you.

“I need your feet.
I need your hands.
I need your tongue.

“For today I have only your feet to carry me into the slums, the factories, and the offices of your cities.

“I have only your hands to reach out to the helpless,
the homeless, and the hopeless.

“I have only your tongue to tell my brothers and sisters
why I came to live on earth, and why I suffered and died for them.”

In brief, the message of today’s gospel is this:

Jesus invites us to cooperate with him in working miracles not unlike those he worked in biblical times.

Whatever we give him—our time, our talent, our prayers,
our sacrifices, our responses—he will use in a way that will exceed our greatest expectations.

He will multiply them beyond anything we dreamed of,
just as he did the boy’s loaves and fish in today’s gospel reading.

This is the invitation Jesus makes to us in today’s readings.

Let’s close with a prayer. It was a favorite of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Please follow along in silence:

“Take, Lord.
Take my liberty.
Take my memory.
Take my understanding and my entire will.

“Take whatever I am and have. You have given it all to me.
Now I give it all back to you. Do with it whatever you wish.

“Give me only your love and your grace.
With these I am rich enough and desire nothing more.”

Series II
17th Sunday of the Year
2 Kings 4:42–44; Ephesians 4:1–6; John 6:1–15

The Transformation
Jesus wants to multiply our “loaves and fishes’’ beyond our wildest dreams.

Years ago, Ernest Gordon of Princeton University
wrote an article entitled “It Happened on the River Kwai.’’

Gordon’s article described how he spent a large part of World War II as a prisoner in Thailand on the banks of the Kwa Noi River. This river was the setting for the famous movie
Bridge over the River Kwai.

Gordon worked on the infamous 250-mile “Railway of Death,’’ which the Japanese were building to facilitate their drive into Burma and India.

Over 12,000 Allied prisoners died of starvation and brutality building this railway. Gordon writes:

“Toiling from dawn to dusk . . .
we worked bareheaded and barefooted in temperatures as high as 120 degrees in the sun.

“Men staggered to their assignments burning with fever.
When they dropped in their tracks,
they were left where they fell, to be picked up at the day’s end and carried back to the camp by their comrades.

“A prisoner suspected of faking an illness was tied to a tree, beaten, and left exposed to the tropical sun and insects all day.’’

But Gordon says the worst enemy was not the Japanese.
Nor was it the hard life they had to live. It was themselves.

Their fear of the Japanese made the prisoners paranoid.
The law of the jungle took over among them.
They stole from one another.
They distrusted one another.
And to win personal favors from the Japanese,
they informed on one another.

The guards laughed to see how the once-proud soldiers were destroying one another.

Morale hit zero. Something had to be done! But what could one prisoner or even a group of prisoners do in a situation like this?

The Allied officers tried again and again, but they failed to reverse the situation.

Finally, two enlisted men, whose faith in God had helped them keep their honor and integrity, decided to try.


They gathered together the few Bibles they could find and organized a prayer -discussion group. Meeting at night,
the group started with about a dozen men. Before long,
 the group grew to hundreds.

Through their readings and discussions,
the men came to know Jesus. Their problems were the same problems Jesus himself had faced.

He too was often hungry.
He too was often bone-weary.
He too was betrayed.
He too felt the sting of the whip on his back.

Everything about Jesus—what he was, what he said,
 what he did—began to make sense and come alive.

The prisoners stopped thinking about themselves as victims of some cruel tragedy.

They stopped informing on one another.
They stopped destroying one another.

Nowhere was their change of heart more evident than in their group prayers together.

They began to pray not so much for themselves but for one another. And when they did pray for themselves, it was not to get something. It was to release some new power that they suddenly found inside themselves.

Gordon concludes his report by telling how one night he was hobbling back to his hut after a late Bible-study meeting. Suddenly, from one of the huts along the way,
he heard a group of prisoners singing a hymn. One of the prisoners was beating time on a piece of metal with a stick.

The sound of the singing made the darkness come alive with hope. The difference between those joyful voices and the dreadful silence of months past, said Gordon, was
 “the difference between life and death.’’

That story of how two enlisted men transformed an entire prisoner-of-war camp bears a striking resemblance to the story of the boy in today’s gospel.

Like the two enlisted men in the camp, who did what they could, the boy in the story did what he could. He gave to Jesus what he had and Jesus did the rest.

In the case of the boy, Jesus multiplied his loaves and fishes beyond his greatest expectation.

In the case of the two enlisted men, Jesus took their honor and integrity and multiplied it beyond their greatest expectation.

What Jesus did for the hungry crowd, and what Jesus did for the prisoners of war, he also wants to do for people today.

He wants to feed the hungry millions of our world.
He wants to transform the angry millions of our world.

But Jesus needs a boy to give him a few loaves and fishes to start the process. He needs a couple of lowly enlisted men to give him their honor and integrity to initiate the transformation.

In brief, Jesus needs people like you and me to give him our loaves and fishes and our integrity and honor. Jesus needs us to give him our talents and our daily prayers and crosses.

And if we give these things to Jesus, he will take them and bless them beyond our greatest expectation.

This is the lesson of Ernest Gordon’s true story of
“It Happened on the River Kwai.’’

This is the lesson that Jesus wishes to teach us in today’s gospel.

This is the challenge and the invitation that Jesus places before each one of us in this liturgy.

It’s the same lesson, the same challenge, and the same invitation that Pope John Paul II set before the young people of Scotland during his visit there in 1982.

After reading today’s gospel, the pope said to the young people:

[The boy gave all he had] and Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 people. . . .
It is exactly the same with your lives. . . .
Place your lives in the hands of Jesus. He will accept and bless you, and he will make use of your lives in a way that exceeds your greatest expectation.

Series III
17th Sunday of the Year
2 Kings 4:42–44, Ephesians 4:1–6, John 6:1–15

Ministry
Let’s all share in the miracle together.

There is a boy here who has five loaves of barley bread and two fish.” John 6:9

Eric Zorn is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. One day his work took him to Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

Suddenly, 51-year-old Dennis Dunn pulled up to the curb in his Ford Explorer. Dressed in a blue sports jacket and white pants, he emerged holding an empty coffee can with a slit in its plastic lid.

Then he began begging money from the street people.
Zorn says it was one of the craziest things he had ever seen in his life.

They stood there dumbfounded at what was happening,

Dunn explained that he worked for Making Choices,
a Catholic prison ministry.

He said it provided guidance and support for juveniles who had been released from the detention center just down the street but who still had to attend regular meetings.

To get to these meetings, many of these young people had to cross dangerous gang boundaries. So adult volunteers began picking them up and transporting them to the detention center in an old broken-down van.

When the van conked out, Dunn,
an ordained Catholic deacon,
took it upon himself to solicit money to buy a new van.

At first, he used the empty coffee can as a gimmick to solicit funds from affluent suburbanites.

Then one day his wife, Nancy, suggested that, ideally,
some of the money should come from the neighborhood people who would see the van drive up and down the street with the kids.

It would give these neighborhood people a sense of dignity in knowing that they were part of a ministry to help kids.
That’s when Dunn began soliciting funds from the street people and area people.

At first the street people turned away in utter disbelief.
But when Dunn persisted and explained that the funds were to help kids stay out of jail, they stopped to listen.

A waitress at Edna’s Soul Food Restaurant emptied her tip apron into his can. One person sitting on the curb with a bottle in a brown paper bag put in a pair of dimes. A homeless person emerged from a doorway and dropped in a few sticky coins of his own.

Dunn says, “No matter what you may have heard,
these neighborhoods are filled with people who care”—even the most dysfunctional street people understand and care.

What is needed is to explain the project in a way that the people can understand and share in the dignity and privilege of being a part of the project.

If we do this, we’ll find that their response can be absolutely beautiful.

I really like that story,
and I like it for two reasons, especially.

First, what the deacon did is exactly what Jesus did in today’s Gospel. Jesus involved others in the miracle of feeding the hungry. He involved his disciples and the boy.

Second, what the deacon and Jesus did provides us with a paradigm for undertaking similar projects.

In last Sunday’s homily, we recalled the story of a person who begged God to work a great miracle to help the hungry and the needy of our world.

In utter frustration, the person shouted,
“Lord, why don’t you do something about this ugly situation down here?”

There was a pause. Then a heavenly voice replied,
“I did do something. I made you.”

That story reminds us of a statement by Edward Everett Hale. He said:

I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything, let me not refuse to do the something that I can do.

The point is this: God wants to help people. But God wants to do it in a way that allows us to participate with dignity in his miracle of helping the needy.

And that’s what Jesus did and that’s what the Chicago deacon did.

And that brings us to each one of us in this church.

Today’s Gospel offers us a paradigm for changing our world—a paradigm for multiplying anew the loaves and fish
to feed the hungry and needy of our world.

Our job is not simply to pray for the hungry and the needy during the prayers of the faithful at Mass. That could be a mockery if that is all we did.
Nor is it simply to be generous in giving money to help the needy. That could be onerous to both of us if that is all we did.

Rather, our job is to do both of these things—and something more. It is to do what Jesus did. It is to do what the deacon did.

It is to seek ways to involve everyone in the privilege and dignity of changing our world—even involving those whom we think are a part of the world’s problems.

Our job is to realize that Jesus wants to work miracles for the hungry and needy of our time,  just as he did for them in his time.

But Jesus needs us to look around and see what needs most to be done in our home, our school, our parish.

He needs us to do what the boy in the Gospel did—and what the deacon did.

Jesus needs us to invite others to join him and to find ways to involve even those less gifted than ourselves in making our world a better place.

This is the good news of today’s Gospel. It is the good news we celebrate in this liturgy. It is the good news that:

I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything, let me not refuse to do the something that I can do.

It is the good news that if we give our loaves and fish to Jesus—as the boy in today’s Gospel did and as the Chicago deacon did—Jesus will help us change our world in ways we never dreamed possible.

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สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

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