Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily


Gospel                                 Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.  The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.  When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.  When it was evening the disciples approached him and said,  “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” 


Jesus said to them,  “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”  But they said to him,  “Five loaves and two fish are all that we have here.”  Then he said,  “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full.  Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children. 



The readings this morning are uplifting.  In our first reading from the book of the Prophet Isiash, we hear God saying to the people,  “If you are hungry or thirsty, come to me and I will give you more than you will ever want.”  And in the second reading from St. Paul to the community in Rome he says,  “There is nothing that can separate us from God, as long as we want God to be a part of us.”  Which means we can always be fed and he is always there if that is what we want.


The Gospel is an example of that.  We see Jesus and he is really depressed and unhappy because he finds out that John the Baptist has just been beheaded.  And what does Jesus do, he goes into the desert to pray just like he always does.  But when he got there thousands and thousands of people were there. 


He had pity on them, he had compassion for them, he looked at them and the first thing he did was to heal them — and then he talked with them.  It was coming on evening and the disciples were becoming concerned.  There were thousands and thousands of people there with nothing to eat.  What are they going to do?


So they go to Jesus and say,  “Jesus, send these people home.  It’s getting dark.”


Jesus looked at them and said,  “No, let them stay here.”  Then he said something that was strange, “Feed them yourself.”


Imagine yourself being a disciple and there are thousands of people in front of you. You are worried about they are going to be fed and you look around and see a child with five loaves and two fish.  They do the multiplication in their head and say,  “This isn’t going to work.”


So they come to Jesus and say,  “We only have five loaves and two fish.”  And Jesus says,  “Bring them to me.” 


And what does Jesus do, like he has done at the many other miracles, he looks up to heaven at the Father, says a prayer, breaks the bread, and gives it to the disciples who give it to everybody there.  And not only was everybody fed, but there were 12 extra wicker baskets left.  My goodness!


What’s that saying to us this morning?  It’s saying that we all have gifts that God has given to each and everyone of us.  Some of those gifts are small, and some are large but Jesus is saying, “It doesn’t make any difference if it is large or small — if you bring it to me I will multiply it so that your basket is full.”


How often when we sign up for stewardship and say, “I’m not good at that, I’m not good at this, I’m not good at that.”  Or do we say,  “There is someone better than me, let him do it.” 


The Gospel is saying to us that we need to be stewards.  We need to be appreciative of what God has given us, the gifts that God has given us, large and small, and not worry about whether the gift is large or small — but use it.  And if we use it with God behind us, it will do more than ever.  And if we look at our own lives, I think we will say,  “That’s true.” 


In your own lives, how many people have touched you by a smile, or a touch, or in some other way?  I want to give you a few examples this morning for you to think about.


  1. Today my father told me, "Just go for it and give it a try! You don't have to be a professional to build a successful product.  Amateurs started Google and Apple. Professionals built the Titanic.”


How often do we get encouragement, and do we encourage other people to do something more?


  1. Today, I asked my mentor -- a very successful businessman in his 70's -- what his top three tips are for success. He smiled and said, "Read something no one else is reading; think something no one else is thinking; and do something no one else is doing.”


How often do we let ourselves not do that?


     3.     I am blind by birth. When I was 8 years old, I wanted to play baseball. I asked my father, "Dad, can I play baseball?" He said, "You'll never know until you try." When I was a teen-ager, I asked him, "Dad, can I become a surgeon?" He replied, "Son, you'll never know until you try." Today I am a surgeon, just because I tried!


      4.    Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.


Is that a coincidence?  Or was it a God moment?


5. Today at 7a.m., I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work.        At 3 p.m. I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too. A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.


Is that a God moment?  Or was it a coincidence?


6. Today, as my father, three brothers, and two sisters stood around my mother's hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent words before she died. She simply said, "I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often."


Something for us to think about.


7. Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient laughing hysterically at her two-year-old daughter's antics, I suddenly realized that I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating it again.


8. Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe.  He said he hadn't eaten anything in over three days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating. The first thing the man said was, "Can we share it?"

Our readings today are about God’s love for us, and his expectation for us to use the gifts we have, to share with each other.  In a few minutes we will be coming to the altar to receive the Real Presence, to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  But before that we will have a couple of people bring up the gifts of bread and wine which are from all of us here — they are from our community. 

It is the gifts that we present to Father Bauer who will accept them, and with God, will consecrate that bread and wine, those gifts that we give, to make them the real Body and Blood of Jesus.  And it is that Body and Blood that we will receive, that will be shared with us by God himself, to help us to live our lives.

So this week we might ask ourselves:  How are we with sharing, and how are we using the gifts we have been given to truly make a difference in our world?

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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.

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