17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B (2)

In today’s readings Our Lord reminds us that disciples know they always have something to learn and to pass along to the people that they help. Christians never stop being disciples; Our Lord always has something to teach us and is always there to help us.

In the First Reading Elisha, who was the disciple of the prophet Elijah, learned the miracle of the multiplication from his master. 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 First Reading was doing something similar, but because the Lord promised to help him. The Lord said a miracle would happen, and it did. Just as the Lord had helped Elijah and the widow, Elisha knew to encourage his servant to begin handing out the bread, and the miracle happened. Prophets of the Lord, just like his disciples, know they are working with the Lord, not alone, helping him to do something for souls.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that in caring for others, as Elias learned from Elijah and the Apostles learned from Our Lord, we’re showing ourselves to be good disciples who listen and learn. We have to stop once in a while and remember how blessed we are to have been chosen by Our Lord to be his disciples. Our Lord not only teaches us how to treat others; he also teaches us how to treat each other. He’s always been quick to address and correct disciples that argue about who was the greatest or seek positions of privilege. We’re called to a lifestyle that can be challenging, but he’s empowered us to live it through his grace and the sacraments: humility, gentleness, patience, and faith.

The disciples in today’s Gospel are 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.

Both lost sight of the fact that Jesus said “we.” When we feel Our Lord is asking something difficult or impossible, we must remember that, like in today’s Gospel, he will be with us and help us. We never stop being disciples, so the Master never abandons us to our mission. 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 and following his guidance, 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 can accomplish working with him. As disciples he never leaves us alone.

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