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Loaves, Fish, and Candy Bars

July 25, 2012

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 29, 2012
John 6:1-15  

A Reflection by Sr. Ellie Hoffmann, OP

Spencer Campbell, Class of 2012, & Sr. Ellie Hoffmann share a smile while on retreat at the Sinsinawa Mound, March 2012.

This Sunday’s readings all speak of the extravagant love between Jesus and the people.  Love is expressed in extravagant teaching, extravagant unity but especially in the extravagant banquet which is expressed by the abundance of 12 baskets.

I don’t know if you ever went through the selfish stage as a youngster, but I know I did.  I remember being given a whole Hershey candy bar, which was extravagant in our house.  My favorite uncle slipped it to me when he came for dinner one Sunday.

 

Well, I ran right for the upstairs bathroom, locked myself in, and ate the whole thing before dinner.

I also recall helping divide the pudding or cake or any desert into equal pieces, making sure all were the same and that no one got more than I did.

It seems that most selfishness between us came out in food situations.  Even my first two years at the Mound, the black capes proved a great place to hide cookies and the novitiate table drawers were often turned into individual cupboards.

One very valid way to look at today’s Gospel is how this extravagance of bread and fish happened or might have happened.

The story of John is told a little different than the three more times it is in the Scriptures. But in all four there was the food of the one person exposed in front of all.  There was a blessing and an extravagant amount of sharing.  Could it be that the miracle of Jesus in this story was to get all the People to sit down in a circle so they could see each other?  Then Jesus blessed the child’s food, which may have resulted in all taking out what they had hidden in their backpacks, their shirts, etc.  Exposing it to all may have been the cause of the extravagant sharing to take place.

Or could it be that when they saw the child, in John’s story, probably forced by the big apostles, to hand over his provisions for the day, that this caused their hearts to open and they too opened their provisions in response to this example?

I just wonder.

All the stories end the same, there is too much to consume.  Jesus’ blessing seemed strong enough to make them see the power of sharing.

Maybe Jesus’ blessing included the words from the first reading:  “They shall eat.” ” There was some leftover”

I think not until we grow uncomfortable enough with having more than we need, will the extravagant love of God bless our world.

Maybe only after we really share of our daily necessities will we be blessed by God’s extravagances.  When all the adults in our world come out and share their candy bar, open their capes and table drawers with their private wealth, will a banquet of God’s extravagance happen.

We as Dominicans must be people striving to grow uncomfortable enough with having more than we need and work to cause ourselves to sit down on the grass and share as our constitution says: Have all things in common.

God is ready to bless.
Our God is waiting.

Sr. Ellie has been a Sinsinawa Dominican for over 50 years and is a beloved sister and spiritual companion for many students at Dominican.  Known for telling great stories and her generous, loving spirit, she assists with University Ministry’s annual Busy Student Retreats, as well as the Mission to the Mound retreat at The Mound in Sinsinawa, WI.  She has a long history of educational and parish ministry, as well as retreat and spiritual direction ministry. 

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