The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 2, 2020
“We Proclaim Provision!”
Isaiah 55: 1-5
Psalm 145: 8-21
Romans 9: 1-5
Matthew 14: 13-21
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
We live in challenging times but in the midst of it, God’s will for us is to have His peace that surpasses all understanding, His peace that conquers and overcomes circumstances and situations.
When the people heard and saw Jesus preach and proclaim the gospel, they asked, “What is this? A new teaching with authority and not like the scribes.” Jesus proclaimed the gospel of kingdom which is about love, restoration, healing and abundance. Jesus did not just use the words or proclaimed by a sermon or a homily; He demonstrated it. He preached the Kingdom and He demonstrated it. This is the big difference between Him and the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the scribes. The religious leaders were good with words, but it ends there. Jesus proclaimed the gospel, but He also illustrated, applied, and implemented what He spoke. If we teach, agree or assent mentally with the Gospel but we don’t demonstrate it, we are no different from the scribes.
Jesus felt compassion when He saw the multitude and it is love that gives the ability to see. Our theme is proclaiming provision. Provision comes two root words: pro – meaning before or ahead; vision – see. We see ahead and love gives us the ability to do this. Not only this, love also gives us the ability to make provision. For example, a mother right now is thinking of what her family will have for lunch or for dinner. She sees ahead because she has compassion for her family. She wants their needs taken care of.
The gospels in the past weeks were about Jesus proclaiming the Kingdom in parables. Today and in the next Sundays, He proceeds to illustrate by demonstrating through miracles. Today’s gospel is about the feeding of the five thousand using five loaves of bread and two fish – about giving. In Matthew 13, the Kingdom is like the mustard seed, talking about abundance.
The message of the Gospel talks about us, people with limited resources, being used by God and given an opportunity to participate in the work of His kingdom. Jesus told the disciples, “The people do not need to go. YOU give them something to eat.” In the eyes of Jesus, it was the disciples who fed the five thousand. God does not need our help because He can do anything. He is the Almighty God, but He invites us to participate in the work of His kingdom so that we can be conformed to His likeness and image. We can be like Him meeting needs. This is who God is all about. Love is willing to do good for another.
How did the disciples feed the five thousand? It was Jesus who multiplied the loaves and the fish, so what did they do to enable them to feed the five thousand? They gave their all – their one hundred percent! This is what will accomplish our mission. The multiplying is God’s part; the giving of ourselves, of our whole being is our part. This is why we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and might and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus, in the gospel, is preaching the Kingdom, but now, through His power, not just words. By doing so, He reinforces His message. Jesus was illustrating the following, which is found in 2Corinthians 9. In verse 6, “He who sows sparingly shall reap sparingly; he who sows bountifully shall reap bountifully.” In verse 8, I would like to point out four things: one, “God is able to make His grace abound to us so that we always have sufficiency in everything.” We will always have sufficiency and this is God’s will. Two, “You may abundance for every good deed.” We are sufficient and have our needs met so that we may have abundance as well for every good deed. We are blessed to be a blessing.
The third point: God multiplies and increases the harvest so that we can be generous and we can continue to bless. In verse 10, it says, “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” In the Gospel, after the disciples were able to satisfy the hunger of the multitude and have been filled themselves, they had left-overs. Meaning, they are equipped to do more and to bless more. Fourth point, as we continue to bless, it produces thanksgiving to God. In 2Corinthians 9:13, “Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the generosity.” It all starts with the giving of what we have – no matter how big or small it is. There is a different system in the kingdom of God.
If a mega-church with 50,000 people will have one hundred pesos each and will give one percent, they will be able to raise fifty thousand pesos. If a small church with 100 people, each with one hundred pesos also, and will give a hundred percent of what they have, they will be able to raise ten thousand pesos. It may be smaller, but in the eyes of God, the ten thousand pesos is more than the fifty thousand pesos. God is not after how much we give, but how much of ourselves we give when we give our offering, our blessings to other. To God, the small church gave more toward the building of the kingdom. It is not about the amount or the number of people, but it is all about the giving of their all. It is not about the total offering, but the giving from the heart.
If one hundred twenty people, in the New Testament, could turn the world upside down, the Cathedral of the King can finish the construction of this building if they give their all. I am not talking about all our money, but all our heart. We give our ten percent that represents our one hundred percent. It is not how much we give, but how we give. Our one hundred percent is what God will multiply. God wants our cheerful giving, not the number of zeros that we attach to whatever amount we give.
Ten years ago, when we started to collect money for the church land, I said, “The total amount that we will be able to collect will not be enough to buy us land. What will be is the giving of ourselves.” Now, we have our land because we gave of ourselves. Let us not compute it with figures because this is not the way it is in the kingdom of our God.
Jesus saw the need and felt compassion. Giving from the heart is what met the need. He has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and gave us His life. What more could He do? He withheld nothing. He gave one hundred percent so He commands us to do the same and be like Him. Love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, strength, and money; and love your neighbor as ourselves.
If the disciples had twenty loaves of bread and eight fish and gave fifty percent of it, they wouldn’t have fed the five thousand. It is not the amount of resources, but the amount heart given with the resources. This is what God is after because then, He can multiply what we give cheerfully. Our one hundred percent is God’s anyway, but He won’t ask us to empty our pockets - maybe at times He would. What we give with all our heart represents our one hundred percent.
In the parable of the vineyard workers, they bore fruit but they did not give. They withheld it so that they were taken out and replaced. If the blessing is not used, it can turn into a curse. Likened to a body, if the muscles are not used, it can shrink and it can be painful. Whatever time, talent, treasure we have received, use them! If we are called or equipped to greet people, to sing, to read, to swing the thurible, to light candles, to preach, to type memos, to run errands, to be a father to provide or a mother to take care of your children, whatever our calling is, fulfill them with all our heart. If we do, we are contributing to the building of the kingdom of God. God blesses and multiplies whatever we do. If it is offered from the heart, God blesses it.
Remember, the mustard seed was very small but it grew to be a home to the birds and gave rest to those who went under its shade. God uses the foolish, the weak, the base and the small things to accomplish His will. What matters is not the little we have but God’s ability to multiply when we give with all our heart. Don’t belittle ourselves; don’t belittle what we do and what we have. We are called; we are counted on. We matter, therefore, we should respond because we belong to the Kingdom for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.