Thoughts on the Readings for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) 2015

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 

Our Gospel this Sunday is the story of the feeding of the 5,000.   Perhaps because this is one of the few incidents that is recorded in all four Gospels, the story is very familiar.   We are told that Jesus was concerned about feeding the large crowd that had been following him.  He asked Philip:  “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”  Philip answered him:  ‘Two hundred days wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.’”  Andrew then said to him: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many.”   Jesus had the crowds recline, then he took the loaves and fishes gave thanks and distributed them to the crowd and “when they had their fill, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.’  So they collected them and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.”  

There are at least three things that are worth noting in this Gospel.  1.  Jesus starts with what is at hand.   He could have performed this miracle without using the boy’s bread and fish, but he chose to use the five barley loaves and two fish that were at hand.   2.  The disciples “discounted” the loaves and fish.  “But what good are these for so many.”  3.  There was an abundance left over: “twelve wicker baskets” were filled with the fragments that were left over.    Taken together I think these things remind us that when God works in our lives/world he can and does work with what is at hand --- even though to us it might not seem like much --- and produce abundant results.  

Our first reading this Sunday God shares the theme of the Gospel.  In it, God, working through the prophet Elisha, feeds a multitude of people with twenty barley loaves.  “For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’ And  when they had eaten, there was some left over as the Lord had said.” 

We continue to read from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians for a second reading this Sunday.  In the section we read this Sunday Paul urges the Ephesians “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. How often to you ask God to do something for you, instead of asking God to help you do something?
  2. Have you ever felt God working in your life and producing abundant results?  
  3. What does it mean for you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received?  


...through thy grace."
-George Herbert, Welsh Anglican poet (1593–1633)
Alluding to Herbert's poem, to live in a manner worthy of the call one has received means, to me, to behave as if my soul were a window through which God's light could shine. I find this sentiment easier to think and say than to actually do, however, especially if I fail to trust God's grace.


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