The Sunday Project
God’s Inclusive Abundance
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time |
By Jessica Lemes da Silva
A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God, twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.” “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.
Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, 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 said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had 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. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
As I dive into the readings for this week, and as I acknowledge that this reflection is written on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, I know that like me, you hold our Indigenous brothers and sisters at the center of our hearts and minds. Many of you may be aware that back in 2008 “Catholic entities” throughout Canada began a fundraising effort to raise $25 million in support of restitution and reconciliation for residential school survivors in accordance with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). What you may not know, as I have recently learned, is that this campaign was called Moving Forward Together, and only about $3.7 million of the $25 million was raised when the campaign ended in 2013. Read more about the failed fundraising campaign here and here.
These facts may be shocking to mainstream Catholics. But unfortunately to us queer Catholics, it would not be the first time we’ve witnessed blindness to human suffering on the part of the church.
By turning and re-turning to the message of the gospel we find guidance, hope, and direction to move forward in action. In fact, as LGBTQ2S+ Catholics we are called to bring all our gifts, identities, perspectives, and lived experiences to bear in the essential healing work needed, as well as in finally feeling welcome to the spiritual bounty offered by Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Now more than ever.
As we read in the first reading, 2 Kings, the prophet Elisha confidently dispels his servant’s doubt that there will not be enough bread for a crowd of a hundred.
“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.
(2 Kings 4:43-44)
God’s abundance is more than enough.
Also, in the gospel reading (Jn 6 1-15) Jesus’s famous miracle of the feeding of the crowds with the loaves and fish leaves no room for doubt that there is enough for all. Jesus embodies the fact that there is more than enough and foreshadows the significance of the “bread of life” forthcoming in the Eucharist.
God’s abundance is more than enough for all.
Furthermore, the message is not only that there is enough to go around, but that the bounty of the Lord is meant for ALL. All, as in everyone. This is beautifully stated in Psalm 145, verse 15-16:
The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
In these verses, 10-18, “all” is stated 12 times. This repetition leaves no room for doubt. God’s love is definitively and completely, inclusive.
God’s inclusive abundance is more than enough for all.
Confident in God’s inclusive abundance we can now move forward in humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace, as Paul instructs us in the second reading (Eph 4:2-3). I, too, am called to show these traits to my currently non-affirming priest, to my ultra conservative–identifying Archbishop, or even to my sometimes machismo dad. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is still a cry to all of us. It is an urgent appeal to wake up and recognize that the dehumanizing reasons that exclude LGBTQ2S+ people, or anyone, from fully living in the sacraments are born from outdated, judgmental and harmful ways of thinking.
I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:
one God and [Parent] of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The Church and all her members can work to accomplish the important task of healing, learning, and paying out financial reparations when we truly understand God’s limitless gifts and bounty as demonstrated in this week’s readings. If we have the collective will, like Paul implores, to be open to spiritual guidance, and to do the work of reconciliation, we will see that there is always more than enough to go around, when we prioritize it. Through Christ’s message of inclusive abundance and Paul’s call to action we can move forward together indeed.