Ordinary 17

Vicar’s Reflection: 26th July 2015, Ordinary Sunday 17

Jesus had an up and down relationship with bread. While fasting in the desert at the beginning of his ministry he was tempted to turn stones into bread to satisfy his own hunger, and refused. In today’s Gospel he responds to the hunger of the crowd of 5000 who have come out into the desert to hear him. They are confused and discouraged. Jesus’s words offer hope, but more than this is needed as they have come a long way, they are hungry and there are no markets nearby. The situation is a test. Can this crowd be genuinely helped by Jesus? Do Jesus’ disciples really trust him? Where can help be found? Jesus asks his disciples to get the people to sit down. Mark and Luke say they were formed into groups of fifty or a hundred. A little boy has trustingly and generously offered a small gift of five loaves and two fish. Jesus then gives thanks for this small offering and publically breaks the bread for distribution. The bits are distributed and as people begin to share, more food emerges, enough to satisfy all. A miracle of multiplication? Or a miracle of kindness and generosity as neighbour opens heart and rucksack to neighbour, as hearts of stone are transformed into hearts of flesh? (Ezekiel 36:26) Which would be the greater miracle? Alex Czerwonka

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