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17th Sunday, Ordinary Time B


Filipino Catholics are very generous. They contribute a lot to society, to the Church and to so many institutions of learning, charity and other worthy causes.  I have witnessed first hand the overwhelming desire of the faithful to share what they have with others. In my last parish, we seldom resorted to fundraisers to solicit funds.  We just explained a project and issued an appeal before the end of the Mass.  Donations kept flowing and projects blossomed.

While the rich gave hugely, those of moderate means and even the less privileged compete with them in generosity. While repairing the termite-infested church ceiling, our rich parishioners pledged substantial amounts. But while I was praying in the church one morning, a lady came from behind me and whispered in a low voice: “I am sorry Father, this is the only money I have, but I offer it for Jesus and the church.” She pressed into my hands a crumpled 200 peso bill and before I can even look at her face, the old woman ran out of the church, not wanting to be known. She was among the poor.

Jesus appreciates every kind of generosity.  Notwithstanding the quantity or value, the Lord makes use of every offering we willingly give.  In John’s gospel, the great miracle of the multiplication of the loaves would never have taken place if a young boy did not volunteer to share his 5 barley loaves and some dried fish.  Jesus took this humble offering and transformed the 5 loaves into a banquet for 5,000 people. I try to imagine how surprised Jesus must have been that a boy, not an adult, was the presenter of gifts. I try to imagine how Jesus must have been warmly touched by this small gift as an answer to a great need.  With the blessing of the Lord, both the boy and his gifts became instruments of a miracle that will continue to be told.

The miracle as we know is not only about food, satiating hunger and sharing.  The miracle speaks of the greater miracle of the Eucharist where Jesus gathers His people together to provide them with nourishment for their salvation.  There will be no Eucharist if there is no willingness to share what we have with Jesus and through him, with our brothers and sisters. At Mass, we come not only to get something.  We come also to offer something to the Lord. The offering may be a material or a spiritual gift, depending on the need.

What have you to offer today to the Lord?  What have you to offer to your spiritual family?  Some people think that in order to be able to offer, the gift must be astoundingly big.  Some think only the rich possess things to share.  This is clearly not the case.  Miracles happen when small people, simple people, ordinary people bring in love what they willingly choose to share.

In the book, 12 Little Things You Can Do to Help Our Country, the author encourages people to give willingly and generously to their churches.  While many critics paint church as a money-making machine, the author explains that when we help the church, we help the needy and the poor, the distressed and suffering whom the church seeks out to aid and restore. 

When you share at Mass or in any venture of the church, remember the boy whose gifts made a miracle possible.  Remember that with your help, Jesus will do the same today.