17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

In today’s readings Our Lord reminds us that disciples know they always have something to learn and to pass along the people that they help. Christians never stop being disciples; Our Lord always has something to teach us. In the First Reading Elisha (who was the disciple of the prophet Elijah) learned from his master in the miracle of the multiplication: Elijah once asked a widow for the last bread she had to feed herself and her son (1 Kings 17:8–16), and when she explained her situation Elijah told her the Lord had promised to provide for them all, and so it came to be. Elisha in today’s Gospel was doing something similar, but because the Lord promised to help him, just as the Lord had helped Elijah and the widow, he knew to encourage his servant to begin handing out the bread, and the miracle happened.

The disciples in today’s Gospel are a little more proactive: they know from Our Lord’s question that he wants to feed the people who came to see him and it seems he’s asking them to make it happen. Phillip sees it as impossible even if they had enough money to feed them, due to the size of the crowd. Andrew at least starts asking around, but the resources come up short. They lost sight of the fact that Jesus said “we”: when we feel Our Lord is asking something difficult or impossible, we have to remember that, like in today’s Gospel, he will be with us and help us. We just have to take it one step at a time, even when sometimes it seems difficult or impossible. In the end, through taking things step by step, they helped Our Lord to make the miracle happen.

Have you felt in your heart that Our Lord has been asking you to try to do something difficult or impossible? Don’t think of the end game; ask him to teach you what first step he wants you to take, and then keep taking things one step at a time. You’ll be surprised how much you accomplish working with him.

Readings: 2 Kings 4:42–44; Psalm 145:10–11, 15–18; Ephesians 4:1–6; John 6:1–15.