Reflection on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary time

by Fr Ncamiso Vilakati


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At the age of six, some of us who never got the opportunity to go to “kindergarten”, were introduced to simple abstract ideas, mathematics. Yes, we learnt that five plus two is equal to SEVEN. That in itself is simple logical arithmetic’s that the second sign performed by Jesus in the Gospel of John presents to us. Seven becoming a whole has the ability to satisfy five thousand men. These seven gifts are wholesome, albeit coming from an inferior source, the simplest of the whole crowd, a boy.

The gospel reading, (John 6: 1-15), presents to us two apostles Phillip and Andreas the brother of St Peter, who regarded themselves as having little to give to others. As ‘economist’ or ‘statisticians’ they were doomsayers looking at five loaves and two fish as insufficient for His people. Their horizon of thinking was based exclusively on quantitative. They felt that it was never enough to satisfy the hunger for courage, consolation, love, and hope for those around them. The fact is that me and yours truly see literally five and two which ends there but God sees five plus two making SEVEN a qualitative aspect of being. In the biblical language, seven indicates fullness therefore, if you put in the hands of Jesus what you believe is your little, he will multiply it, so that it becomes fullness of life for you and a gift to be shared in abundance with others. Only when you have broken bread with your brother will you realise that you are actually not so hungry because you will be full of joy. Like the young man decide please make a choice to give up the little that you have, so that the miracle of multiplication can continue.

The first reading, (2 Kings 4: 42-44); also shows us a failure of the elites, those calling themselves policy makers. They always come up with all sorts of excuses that this policy won’t be good for this or that with the aim of stifling the people growth. They delay means that will emancipate the populace by their stringent ways of doing things. They also complain that twenty barley loaves are insufficient for a hundred. Actually, they want to keep it for themselves so that they enjoy it on their own. Yes, even ourselves closer to the Lord by our baptism, we do not appreciate gratuitous gestures capable of satisfying in abundance, our hunger. This can not only be food but above all a meaning of what life is all about, to share the little God has given us. Small gestures made with the heart is so capable of filling insatiable hearts of affection, peace and serenity. No wonder food at seminary (although flashy as it was), was rarely nice compared to the not so eye-catching food we had at home during holidays. The “Sidvudvu” at home was cooked out of love not out of duty. Hence let’s not think that we have too little to give out of ourselves to others, but what we have , so long it is delivered to God, He multiplies it to become the only richness of another life.

As a consequent of this, (Ephesian 4: 1-6); St Paul shows to us that this giftedness can preserve our unity with God. He asks them (the Ephesians) to live with all humility, meekness and patience, enduring the other with love. This is manifested by that gift we have been asking of you to be patient and enduring. Your loving enduring of our failings and imperfections gives us a glimmer of hope that one day we could be of value in society. Just take that responsibility for the weakness of us weaker ones and your dedication to the construction of peace, put as much love and bond of relationship with us albeit difficult is appreciated. Offer these skills to God for in him he sees a SEVEN, and He who “works through everyone” will multiply this perfect skill you have.

This Sunday if possible may we make a commitment. No more complaining that I am inadequate. Remember in Genesis 1: 31, “And so God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good”. He never regretted by creating us on the sixth day, he was happy for we are all good. He has offered us talents, gifts and creativity to be more good, so long as we place those five loaves and two fish in the palm of His hands. He wants to multiply it, irrespective of your gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, EVERYONE has a gift. Place it on the Lord and let him multiply it for the throngs of multitudes within your vicinity. Jesus is the true bread from heaven that gives us abundant life through you. The food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ is those seven things in your basket. Share with us for we want to be healed, pardoned, comforted, and rest our soul.