My Dear Sisters and Brothers! In today’s Gospel reading, this opens the chapter 6 of St John’s Gospel, ‘Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilea… and a large crowd followed him.’ What does it remind you? Isn’t it an image of a shepherd leading his flock? Then ‘Jesus Christ sat down.’ The One who would call himself the Good Shepherd is going to take care of his sheep that followed him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He is going to teach them. This time his teaching will have a few words only but still it will be life giving, powerful teaching. Let us pay attention to that teaching. Let us take place among the crowd which followed Jesus in the Gospel. After all we call ourselves followers of Christ too, don’t we?
The first point of Jesus’ teaching today is captured by the little boy or the little servant. That little fellow reminds us of what Jesus said to his Apostles another time: ‘Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.’ (Mt 20: 26-27) How did the little servant from today’s Gospel serve? He gave his life. Five loves and the two fish was the food to sustain one person for one day. Remember the poor widow who was praised by Jesus for giving two small coins. Why did Jesus praise her? Did she give a lot? She gave everything. The five loves and the two fish taken from the boy were like life taken from him. He was left with nothing to sustain himself. He had given everything he had.
The second point of Jesus’ teaching today is exemplified by the barely bread. Such bread was the food of the poor. Such bread means simply life. It is not to entertain a delicate palate. It is to keep one going. That barley bread reflects the gift of manna, which sustained the people of God on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. Simple food is life. It keeps you going. The sophisticated food makes you lazy and selfish like it made lazy and selfish the man who partied every day while the poor Lazarus was dreaming of the scraps from the table.
My Dear Fellow Believers! We are blessed because Saint John didn’t overlook the little servant boy in the middle of the hungry crowd first and later in the midst of the excitement due to their satisfied hunger. We read that the people after seeing what happened wanted to make Jesus king. Why? Because they wanted him to be their bread provider all the time, they wanted him to be their servant but they did not want to serve each other. On the other hand the little servant boy illustrates Jesus’ own life as our Blessed Lord said: ‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
As we gather around the table of the Word and the Eucharist Jesus Christ gives us himself in his Body and Blood. Today he also points out to the little servant boy as his walking teaching. Like that little servant boy we walk into this gathering. Our cars, our houses, credit cards, bank accounts may vary but all of us have something in common. It is our life. In a few minutes you will be searching your pockets for some money to put on the plate. As you are holding that coin or note ask yourself if it is all that you are giving the Lord or if you have a determination to make your whole life a gift he could use for the Father’s glory and the salvation of other people.
The Oblate priest I mentioned at the beginning discovered not only a vocation to the priesthood but a call to give his whole life to Jesus. Maybe today that little servant boy with five barley loves and two fish is a walking sermon for you.
Do you give everything as a husband?
Do you give everything as a wife?
Do you give everything as a father?
Do you give everything as a mother?
Do you give everything as a friend?
Do you give everything as a follower of Christ?
Jesus Christ did. Do this in memory of him. Amen.