Detailed homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: THERE IS LOVE IN SHARING
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday July 25 2021
_R1 – 2Kings 4:42-44_
_R2 – Eph 4:1-6_
_GOSPEL – John 6:1-15_
Mother Teresa of Calcutta once related a touching story of a poor Hindu family in Calcutta she visited. The wretched family had been starving for many days. Mother Theresa visited them and brought a big parcel of rice to the mother. She was surprised to see how the mother divided the rice into two equal portions and went out with one bundle to give it to her Moslem neighbor. When she returned, Mother Teresa asked her why she had done such a generous deed. The woman replied: “My family can manage with half the rice in this bag. My neighbor’s family has several children and they are also starving.”
Beloved in Christ, the pastoral relevance of the readings of this Sunday’s Liturgy is quite plausible and ad rem to the challenges of our time, especially, here in Africa, where we are yet to overcome food and shelter, the first in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, because the spirit sharing is gradually leaving humanity. It is not because we do not have enough to feed on, never! The world dwells in abundance. Rather, because we have failed in various capacities to address today’s missionary mandate exemplified by the Master Jesus: ” _PROMOTING AND FOSTERING LOVE THROUGH SHARING_ ,” because of greed and selfishness.
Many of our politicians and well-to-do Aristocrats and elites in Africa have grossly embarked on massive denial of access to food to their constituents, despite the abundance of rich human and natural resources.
We still live in a situation where 100 bags of rice will be released from the the Federal Government and only 80 bags get to the States, and the States will dispatch 50 bags to the Local Governments and the Local Governments will send 20 bags to the communities, then the villages will inturn get 10 bags and at the end, the village and kindred heads will carry one bag each, and at the tail end, the targeted beneficiaries – the various families would go home with just one cup each. Imagine that chronicles of such wanton greediness and selfishness.
Today’s Gospel tells the story of a small boy, the hero of the day, who showed a peculiar act of generosity and selflessness. By sharing his small lunch (which consisted of five barley loaves and two dried fish), he became a hero of generosity and an instrument in Jesus’ working of a miracle that fed thousands. Imagine what the lunch of a poor lad could do!
Jesus is still looking for more selfless lads to multiply their lunch for humanity. That not withstanding, the prophet Elisha, in the first reading, by invoking God’s power, shared and fed one hundred men with twenty barley loaves. Elisha relied not on what he had but on what God would do with what the Prophet had received as a gift.
Summarily, the entire readings invite us to become humble instruments in God’s hands by sharing our blessings with our needy brothers and sisters. They focus on hunger and food and about how we can satisfy the deeper hunger of our life. They remind us that if we, our families or our country are blessed with abundant food supply, we need to share it with the hungry people and poor countries.
*POVERTY AND HUNGER IN THE MIDST OF WEALTH AND ABUNDANCE*
The Genesis account of creation reveals that God created and furnished humanity with rich human and natural resources, to arrest man’s basic and fundamental needs – food and shelter.
However, it is crystal clear that there is hunger, together with abject poverty in the midst of abundance and wealth.
Statistics have revealed that some 800 million people suffer from starvation everyday. This means every 3.6 seconds, someone dies of hunger. Among them, 75% are children, meaning that around 18000 children die from hunger everyday
Every year 15 million children die of hunger. If we go by the feasibility of this statistics shows we have got some work to do around. We can as well ask ourselves: Have we not failed and disappointed Jesus in attending to the hungry and poor if we still have such number of people being starved on daily basis? It is quite obvious that the missionary mandate of today’s Liturgy, ” _FOSTERING LOVE BY SHARING,”_ has definitely eluded us because of our indifference, via actions and inactions towards the plights of the hungry and poor.
Another statistics reveal that in most Asian, African, and Latin American countries, over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty.” A majority of humanity live on less than $1 per day while the world’s 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world’s people.
_Fr K. Anthony_ reveals possible three reasons for this situation at the global scene:
(1) The unwillingness of the rich people and wealthy countries to share their blessings with poor and the needy.
(2) The unjust distribution of wealth, enabling the rich to become richer and let the poor to get poorer.
(3) The exorbitant military spending of rich and poor nations. Most countries spend more than half their national income for the military.
So, we need to invest and spend more on what profits and promotes humanity than what destroys humanity.
(1) *SHUN GREED AND SELFISHNESS*
The major reason for the escalation of hunger in the society today is greediness orchestrated by selfishness – lack of sharing. Greed propels one to amass wealth even when it is not needed. The hero of the day, the little lad in the Gospel who submitted his lunch for the public was never greedy or selfish. The problem of imbalanced distribution of natural resources is greed, most elitist gangs would store up treasures for their generation, both born and unborn. Although the food in the world should suffice to feed God’s children, it will never suffice to fill the greed of men. The heroic lad in today’s Gospel and Elisha challenge us to plan what we can do to feed the hungry in the world around us by changing the way we live, personally and as a community.
A famous preacher-novelist _Lloyd C. Douglas_ , author of The _Robe_ once presented an existential, but “atheological” and unacceptable view by the church that the Gospel text describes how Jesus “miraculously” turned a crowd of selfish men and women into a fellowship of generous sharers. He said, “Jesus recorded the success of getting a group of selfish people to share their personal provisions with others.” According to this interpretation, it appears strange and unnatural that the crowd had made this nine-mile-long expedition to such a desolate village without taking anything to eat. When people set out on a journey, they usually took their food with them in a small basket called a ‘kophinah’ or in a bigger wicker basket. But if they had done so in this case, each one might have been unwilling to share what he had brought with others. If such were the case, Jesus might have deliberately accepted the five loaves and fish from the little boy in order to set a good example for the crowd. Moved by this example of generosity, the crowd might have done the same.
(2) *LEARN TO SHARE – THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE YOU ARE BETTER THAN.*
The second reading challenges us to a generous sharing. As Christians we need to commit ourselves to share and to work with God in communicating His compassion to all as the early Christians did. God always blesses those who share their blessings, time, and talents with loving commitment. Why allow those bags of rice and tubbers of rice to be attacked by termites when your neighbors go hungry? Why allow the water in the underground tank to roll over the year while your neighbors are thirst? Why refusing to show your brothers and friends the route you tolled to success? Why not expand the fishing freak by teaching others the art of fishing? Remember, you too can promote and foster love for humanity by sharing the little you have.
(3) *OPPRESSION FEED HUMANITY*
Whatever you are or you have today was given for a purpose: to serve God and render services to humanity. A lot of people have tried that which made you who you are and failed. Many more have taken bigger risks and harder hustles and failed, but you succeeded.. It is for a purpose – Use it to better humanity. Embark on ” _OPPRESSION FEED HUMANITY”_ today. Look around, there is always a hungry person that needs your waste for livelihood. You cannot be too poor to give… Imagine the heroine in the introit story.
Finally, there was this rich lady who lived on her own and led an impeccable life as far as the externals of religion were concerned. She went to mass daily, and found little or nothing to confess when she went to confession. Eventually she died and to her horror and surprise found that she had been assigned to hell. She complained bitterly explaining how she had lived a virtuous and utterly blameless life on earth. Satan inquired of Peter and was told there was no mistake. But Peter conceded that if she could think of one single act of kindness, heaven would be open to her. The woman returned saying: “One day,” she said, “as I was cooking the dinner a beggar came to the back door. He was hungry and I gave him an onion.” Peter checked and found that it was true and said to Satan. “We are going to lower the onion into your department at the end of a rope. Tell her to clasp it and then we’ll pull her up here.” Needless to say the woman grabbed the onion and suddenly her feet left the nether region. As she was being pulled up, some of her companions, seeing the opportunity of getting out with her, clung to her. “Let go, let go,” she shrieked, kicking out at them, “that’s my onion.” With these words, “That’s my onion,” the rope snapped and she fell back, with her onion, into the arms of Satan, who said to her, “That rope was strong enough to save both you and your brothers, but it was not strong enough to save you alone.”
Remember, we shall be chiefly judged based on our generosity and kindness to other. Jesus will definitely ask us, how many people did we give something to eat? How many people did we use our opportunities to assist? (Mtt. 25:14-31) Go today and share with others. There is love in sharing.
MAY GOD GIVE US A SELFLESS AND GENEROUS HEART THAT FEELS AND CARES FOR THE NEEDS AND CONCERN OF OTHERS. AMEN
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
*FR GERALD MUOKA*