Home » Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 25th July 2021 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 25th July 2021 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear sisters and brothers,

You are probably aware of my some of my weaknesses already, but here are a few that came to mind as I reflected on today’s readings:

  • I can be impatient with the people that I struggle with in one way or another
  • I can look at accusingly at those I deem to be bad drivers if I ever overtake them, and gloat as I do so
  • I regularly fail to build good relationships with my neighbours

Why do I mention these?  Well; because they highlight how I fail to ‘live a life worthy of my vocation’, as St Paul exhorts us to today, and because in doing so I am not living the life of generosity that God highlights in our other two readings.

In today’s first reading the man from the hard to pronounce place – Baal-shalishah – is extremely generous.  God had told Moses to mandate that each family of Israel give the first fruits of their harvest to his priests, and so, indirectly, to him.  This man of Baal-shalishah does so to excess, and in a time of famine too!!!  Barley was the food of the poor, so this poor man gives not just one, but 20 barley loaves, from the beginnings of his harvest.  The first fruits were given prior to the whole harvest being reaped as an act of trust in God.  The rest of the harvest might be destroyed, and so it was a deep sign of faith and trust…and this was a time of famine!  This is the generosity that God is calling us to as the first fruits of our faith as well, maybe not in barley, but in love.

And that same reading doesn’t leave it there.  The man gave the barley loaves to God’s prophet, Elisha, who chooses not to keep it to himself, but to share it with 100 men in need amidst the famine, and probably their families as well.  God takes these acts of generosity and fulfils them in what appears an ultimate act of generosity; working the miracle of making those loaves feed 400 or so hungry people, with some leftover.  Does this story ring any bells?

Yes, what is commonly called ‘the feeding of the 5,000’ of today’s Gospel.  Jesus reveals himself as God made man as he expands on the miracle of Elisha’s time, feeding 5,000 men and their families – at least 20,000 people – with twelve baskets leftover.  This miracle reveals the enormity and power of God’s love for his people, which includes all of us, in this act of abundant generosity, and act which will come to its ultimate fulfilment in the abundant loving generosity of the Cross, where Jesus lays down his life for each of us.  And the day of Jesus’ Resurrection was the Feast of First Fruits, the beginning of the harvest.  His Resurrection then, is the first fruits of God’s harvest, and we are the remainder of the harvest that he is reaping.

As we are asked to ponder these first fruits, then, what are the first fruits of our own lives that we can share with others, that we can bless God and others with as we place our trust and faith in God?  That’s where my reflections on my weaknesses came in.

  • For my impatience with those with whom I struggle, he is asking for the fruit of loving patience
  • For my accusing looks and gloating at those I deem to be bad drivers, he is asking for me to lovingly forgive
  • For my failure to build good relationships with my neighbours, he is asking me to show love by really caring for those I don’t know so well

We will each have our own set of weaknesses that we can identify and seek to offer as our first fruits; these are just a few of mine!  When we choose to offer these as first fruits, however challenging it may be to do, we are choosing to live life as the disciple of Jesus Christ that we were made to be; we are living a life worthy of our vocation as a Baptised Christian.  Let’s pray then, that the Lord reveal to each of us how to love as he loves in our daily lives:

  • What virtues to grow in?
  • What loving action to take?
  • Who to reach out to, despite the challenge?
  • How to grow in generosity of spirit?
  • How to live a life worthy of our vocation?

Come O Holy Spirit!!!

With every blessing,

Simon