Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: MULTIPLICATION OF LOAVES/ FIL-MISSION SUNDAY

Jn 6: 1-15


WE HEAR TODAY the version of John the Evangelist of the miracle/sign about the Multiplication of Loaves. This version of John on this popular miracle is interesting. In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is presented as a sign of his authority and divinity. Jesus interprets the meaning and significance of this miracle as a sharing of his Body and Blood.

We go over some of the important moments of the gospel passage:

Firstly, we shall look into the attitude of Jesus upon seeing the vast crowd. Jesus asked a question to Philip, “Where can we find enough food for them to eat?” The question is a question of concern, that is, a concern for the hungry crowd. Although, according to the gospel, it was a question to simply test Philip because Jesus knew what he was going to do next, but certainly Jesus did a subsequent sign/miracle because he had compassion to the vast crowd. 

Speaking of hunger, the problem of world hunger continues to this day. This is evident in the less developed countries. The problem could have been alleviated if the richer countries show some concern to this problem. Rich countries enjoy the abundance of food, but unfortunately, some of these are simply wasted. It could have been better if these were being shared to the hungry.

Secondly, the gospel says about the solution of the problem. Andrew said that there was a “boy” who brought with him five loaves and two fish. The mention of the ‘boy’ is only found here in the account of John about the miracle. We could not find it in the Synoptic gospels.

We don’t have any idea how old this boy was. But let us surmise that he is a small child. Generally speaking, children are selfish. It is not easy for children to easily give some of what they have to other children. Children think that their toys, for instance, are simply theirs. They hardly share these to anyone. However, the boy mentioned in the gospel passage is a different kind of a boy. He is a boy who easily shared the loaves and fish that he brought along with him. We can say that there is something new that happened here. There is a movement from selfishness to selflessness. Or simply, to generosity.

Going back to the question on hunger, to solve the hunger in the world, people should have both attitudes of Jesus and of the boy: concern and generosity. If the affluent countries show concern and compassion to poor counties, and if they are generous, then the problem of hunger in the world would be alleviated.

Having said these, however, we should take note that Jesus did not do the miracle only to fill the stomachs of the hungry. Rather, it signifies the life of God that Jesus would give us. In the subsequent passage, we would hear Jesus saying: “Truly, I say to you, you look for me, not because of the signs you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life (Jn 6: 26-27).

The account of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes recalls some aspects of the Mass. In this miracle, Jesus transforms a young boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish. In the offertory at Mass, we present the fruits of our labors, through the bread and wine. These gifts, given to us first by God as grain and fruit, are returned to God in our offering. God in turn transforms our gifts, making this bread and wine the very Body and Blood of Jesus. Indeed, Jesus gives us eternal life. AMEN.

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IN THE PHILIPPINES, TODAY IS A CELEBRATION OF “FIL-MISSION SUNDAY”

The Fil-Mission Sunday has been designated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) as a national celebration of mission, in contrast to the World Mission Sunday. The Fil-Mission Sunday is being celebrated every last Sunday of July.

The Fil-Mission Sunday is a Sunday of the year during which the Catholic Church of the Philippines remembers the missionary intentions and efforts of the Mission Society of the Philippines or MSP. Why the MSP? Because the MSP was established by the CBCP in 1965 to become the primary and official missionary arm of the Catholic Church of the Philippines. So, the Filipino Mission Sunday does not refer to all Filipino missionaries in general, but rather, it particularly refers to the Mission Society of the Philippines.

If our gospel theme today is generosity, then, the MSP is a testament to the generosity of the Catholic Church of the Philippines. Until now, some curious people are asking, “Why does the Catholic Church in the Philippines continue to send missionaries to other countries, when we are in a dire need of them here?"

The answer is: because we are generous. Missionary work is an imperative. It is not dependent on the “excess” of missionaries or priests. Some people would think of generosity in terms of giving what one no longer needs. For example, if I no longer need this shirt, pants, shoes, then I shall dispose of them and give these to others. If that is the way we understand generosity, then we would have a problem on mission. We need to wait until we have priests whom we do not need. And when will that come? That is the question.

However, that is not the way we think of generosity. True and authentic generosity happens when we give, even if we badly need it. It pains to give. And it is possible to give or send priests to the mission because we are generous.

So, the members of the Mission Society of the Philippines, who are working in 13 countries (Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Australia, New Zealand, the UAE, Oman, Netherlands, the US, Tuvalu), are a testament to the generosity of the Catholic Church of the Philippines.

Now, it is the turn of the Filipino faithful to be generous too. How? 

First, be generous to the MSP by praying for them. The MSP missionaries need your ardent prayers.

Second, be generous to the MSP by offering material support. The existence of the MSP depends on your financial support.

One last note. By virtue of our baptism and confirmation, we have been called to preach the gospel to other countries. Not all of us can do that literally. But the Church in the Philippines has the Mission Society of the Philippines to represent her in the work of mission. Therefore, the MSP deserves your support.

Happy Fil-Mission Sunday, everyone!


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