Ordinary 17
Ordinary 17
by Lanie LeBlanc OP

The first and third Scripture readings for this Sunday recall instances when multitudes of people were fed from just fragments of food. These instances, of course, remind us of the Eucharist and our continual spiritual nourishment through the abundance of God. They also remind me of our obligation to live as Eucharistic people, trusting in this abundance, but also caring for those who have less than we do.

To me, the second reading, the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, addresses the manner in which we are to live so that we will be "worthy of the call". This call is our Baptismal call, to be "priest, prophet, and king" as it states in the Rite of Baptism. As priest we are to offer prayer and worship, as prophet we are to preach, and as king we are to care for the less fortunate. Individuals can certainly act in the ways suggested in this letter, that is, with humility, gentleness, patience, and love. It is through unity of spirit and the bond of peace, however, that groups of people within the same or different congregations can bind themselves together in God's service. It is then that we can best reflect the One God of all and truly serve the One God of all.

In a world where there is division within families, neighborhoods, congregations, workplaces, cities, and countries, unity may seem an impossible goal. This second reading also mentions "the hope of your call", that long term goal that assures us that all nations will one day be under the one God who is "over all and through all and in all". In my mind, this hope says that strife and division will end everywhere and that peace will prevail everywhere. Peace begins in every one-on-one relationship. It extends to each and every effort we make toward settling divisions, no matter how small . It is like a rippling effect in the water.

As for the caring of others who are less fortunate, it is important to note that any poverty, whether of mind or spirit or material goods, is a breach of peace, internal or external or both. To trust in the abundance of God through His gift of the Eucharist is to continue to draw spiritual nourishment and remain peaceful. It also enables one to recognize his or her own areas of poverty, not in fear, but in trust. Sharing the spiritual or material wealth one might have in other areas with others is important. For those who may not be able to live in the personal awareness of His gifts at the present time, the words and actions of someone who can will be life-giving. It is seeing and hearing an authentic Gospel message and the person who reaches out to another is living this Gospel.

How fortunate are those who have a community or congregation united in these efforts of addressing poverty and sharing the wealth! How hopeful must they be who have not, hopeful that God will provide, and alert to those instances where seizing such an opportunity will bring great and everlasting rewards.

(Comments to Lanie at lanieleblanc@mindspring.com.)