The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: July 25, 2021
MUCH FROM LIFE (2 Kings 4:42–44)
Almost any Christian can tell you the story of Jesus’ miracle of the loaves. But very few can tell you the story of Elisha’s miracle of the loaves.
Elisha was one of the first prophets to appear in the Bible. The Second Book of Kings records a series of ten legends about Elisha’s power. One of them concerns bread.
In this story, a man travels a distance to bring the prophet a gift of twenty barley loaves and fresh grain. Elisha told him to give it to the people. The man objected that there would not be enough for one hundred people. Elisha told him to give it anyway.
There was enough. And there was bread left over.
When John tells the story of Jesus’ miracle of the loaves, he includes some details that remind us of this story. The loaves were made of barley. And after everyone had eaten, there was bread left over.
When Jesus’ story reminds us of Elisha’s story, we realize that the same God has been at work all along, choosing prophets to speak the divine Word, and providing food for body and spirit in abundance.
If what you have to give is only a little, God can use it to do a lot.
NOT GETTING ALONG (Ephesians 4:1–6)
Fighting can become the status quo. When kids fight at school, someone tries to break it up, but in the end we know they’re just kids. Fighting is what kids do. During an election year the mudslinging can get intense. There will be a few calls for civility, but most of us shrug our shoulders. There’s nothing we can do. Fighting is what candidates do. Teens and their parents, parents and teachers, contributors to blogs, sometimes even pastors and council members —some groups seem to disagree by their nature. It isn’t right, but fighting can become the status quo.
The members of the early church had the same problem. Many New Testament letters indicate that the first Christians believed in Christ, held high ideals, and lived in community —but they didn’t always get along.
In one passage from the Letter to the Ephesians, you can just imagine the spats that provoked these words: “I 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.” The readers had to be urged toward those virtues because they were not very evident.
Fighting should never be the status quo. We have a more noble vision of community life. Our one Lord, one faith, and one baptism summon us to be one body and one spirit.
Reflections: Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year B© 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.