Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Readings

Today we hear of the miracles God can perform when there is faith that nothing is impossible for God. Elisha, a prophet of God, asked the servant to distribute the bread among the people. The servant thought that it would not be enough to feed them all but through the faith of Elisha, God multiplied the bread.

Today’s Gospel is similar to the first reading. Many people had gathered and were hungry and all the disciples could find to feed them was five barley loafs and two fishes. However, when Jesus told them to distribute what they had, they found that the small offering had multiplied not only to meet the needs of the people but to overflowing.

Do miracles like this happen today? If we depend on seeing with our eyes and not our hearts, we will answer no. But the person that walks by faith and not by sight, will see the abundance of God’s love for His people to satisfy their needs to overflowing.

Today’s Gospel is thought to be a prefiguration of the Eucharist. In the simple products of the earth, bread and wine, and of human hands, God enters in the person of Jesus and fulfills our spiritual needs to overflowing.

When we participate in the Eucharistic celebration, we allow Jesus, body, soul, and divinity to enter into the body, mind, and spirit. Participation in the Eucharist fulfills all our spiritual needs and more. The grace that is received during the Eucharist is given beyond our capacity to receive and retain the grace. God is a generous giver.

What do we do with the grace received in excess of our needs? If we try to fill an eight-ounce glass with twelve ounces of liquid, the liquid will overflow and be of no use to us because we will be unable to consume it. In much the same way, the grace received in the Eucharist will exceed our needs.

So, what do we do with the overflow?

When we are called into ministry, and all of us are called, we can only answer the call with the grace that God provides. We cannot pursue ministry on our own and bear fruit from our efforts. The grace God provides is sufficient for us to grow and reach maturity in the Spirit and allows enough additional grace to share with others.

We are earthen vessels formed by clay and the shaping of the clay is the work of the Holy Spirit. To grow in the Spirit, is an ongoing process in which we meet the living God, surrender to His grace, empty ourselves in ministry, and allowed ourselves to be filled again. When shared, the grace is given where needed like the excess from the loafs and fishes were collected in twelve baskets for distribution to others.

Today, may we be filled with grace from the Holy Spirit, give the grace away in ministry, and in our emptiness allow God to fill us again to overflowing.

May God continue to bless us,

Deacon Phil