The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church
Our Service today was from the 1549 BCP and the Readings used were those given there for the 25th Sunday after Trinity.
Sermon preached at Springwood by Br. Luke on Sunday 22nd November 2015:
25th Sunday after Trinity year B
I usually focus on one or perhaps two passages from the Scripture and then focus one the 1 or perhaps 2 messages that these passages speak about. I very rarely give you a number of ideas in the one homily. This is because I think it is easier for us to just remember one idea. But today, I’m going to give you five ideas. Yes, I know, five is a lot, but five it is. But relax, I will be quick.
There are, I suspect in today’s world, those who doubt that there were 5,000 people there on the hillside on that day. How they say, could they all hear him, how could that many sit down, how could that many gather in one place. And a whole host of other practical, “sensible” questions. I think these people are speaking from a physical and not a spiritual perspective. We see this practical focus most clearly in Philip’s plea “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little”. But Jesus just goes ahead and distributes the food. But if we simply focus on the practical, we begin to question and lose sight, of what is more important here: the number of people, the number of the loves and fish, or the miracle?
Just as the boy who tentatively brought his food to Jesus, we are asked to bring our small seemingly insignificant gifts for the use of the community. But we are afraid. Afraid that our gifts, like ourselves, are too small, too unimportant, of no value. I wonder if the boy came forward of his own accord, or if the disciples spotted him and called him forward? I guess we will never know. But we do know his food was used to feed a multitude. When we bring our gifts they are blessed, multiplied and then distributed to others as a blessing. They are just what is needed to bless others. So no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to you, bring your gifts them forward with joy and thanksgiving.
In the few verses which follow this reading, but we did not hear, John talks about the people wanting to make Jesus the king. Having fed the people, Jesus withdrew when he “realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king”. His miracles and teachings made him popular. But Jesus knew that this popularity was fickle. The message he was bringing was not for the fickle. It was, and is, life changing and needs a commitment far beyond “the now”. But to those around him in those days, the people were fickle and I think also demanding that he meet their needs. I think we get glimpses of how, on occasion, this behaviour must have frustrated Jesus when he castigates them about being a wicked generation. Today there are of course still “fickle” people. How do you help them?
Jesus fed five thousand people with five barely loaves and two fish. Miracles are events that seem to be impossible. Things that could not possibly happen, but do. They have happened in the past, they happen today, and they will happen tomorrow. We may pray for them; they may happen whether we pray or not. We may see them or we may miss them altogether. We all know of at least one that either happened to us, or to someone we know. Have you ever noticed that a miracle makes people (who are otherwise cynical) aware of the divine? Notice also how their awe is short-lived?
“11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated”. We perhaps just miss this significance of this little passage, but we would be remiss to do this. In this action, and each time Jesus does this feeding miracle, he gives thanks. Yes, we say we know that Jesus gives thanks, but think also about where else this action occurs. If you said the Last Supper, you’d be correct. And we all know that we clearly see the Last Supper in today’s Eucharist. In the Eucharist we receive the food of Holy Communion, which unites us with Christ. But more than this, today, we are just like that crowd, who on that day was fed by his actions, and perhaps more importantly, by his words. Amen.
Br Luke Efo Pastor
Image source: Jesus’ miracles: the feeding of the 5,000 « RE:quest. 2016. Jesus’ miracles: the feeding of the 5,000 « RE:quest. [ONLINE] Available at: http://request.org.uk/jesus/miracles/jesus-miracles-the-feeding-of-the-5000/. [Accessed 12 August 2016].