17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 26, 2015 – Year B
Readings: 2 Kgs 4:42-44 / Psalm 145 / Eph 4:1-6 / Jn 6:1-15
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Just over 6 years ago, a girl about 8 years old regularly attended Mass with her grandparents in my former parish of St. Luke’s in Virginia Beach. None of us in the parish bothered to ask why she was living with her grandparents instead her own parents. We were just happy to have her there because we enjoyed her company. She had a way of making everyone around her feel special and important just by being herself.
The day before I left St. Luke’s to move to my new assignment here in Bedford, she gave me a paper card that she’d created herself. I’ve re-read her card’s message many times since then, particularly when I am really tired, because her words give me energy. Here’s what she wrote: Roses are red, Violets are blue, You are the best priest I ever knew and I love you. And she signed her name, Leilani. Of course, at that time according to her grandparents, I was the only priest she’d ever known. She simply had no point of comparison, but as the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts.
Last night I called the staff of St. Luke’s and asked how Leilani was doing. Deacon Kevin and his wife, Patty, had some very good news to share: that Leilani is now living with her own parents in another city. And I believe, as they do, that they are living happily together. The joy that this little girl has shared with others has surely been multiplied a hundred times over.
There are many stories of people who have given generously of their time, talent, or treasure, and have had their gifts increased. They themselves were blessed abundantly. In today’s gospel, St. John the Evangelist tells us about a little boy who was so generous that he gave his 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to Jesus. Because of this child’s generosity, more than 5,000 people were fed. In fact, according to St. John the Evangelist, when the meal was over there were many more loaves and fish than the crowd could eat.
This gospel story teaches us that anything we give generously, however small, will be multiplied by our Lord many times over. Later in this Mass, Sister Carrie Ann will share with us a few minutes of reflection on how we can grow in virtue just 5 seconds at a time. Sometimes that’s all we need to give to God, and the reward He will give us in return will be beyond measure. As Jesus said in Chapter 6 of the Gospel of Luke: Give and gifts will be given to you; a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.