SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – 2018
TWENTY BARLEY LOAVES PREFIGURE THE EUCHARIST
The First reading, taken from The Second Book of Kings, sets the tone of this Sunday’s homily. It ultimately reminds us that the Eucharist is the spiritual food which God has already through the mouth of Elisha made known to the people of his era. The story of the man that brought the twenty barley loaves of bread to Elisha, clearly brings home this message. Elisha’s command that the bread should be given to the people to eat, even at the objection of his servant, fully indicates the universal character of the Holy Eucharist. The reading tells us that Elisha insisted, "Give it to the people to eat." "For thus says the LORD, 'They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'" And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the LORD had said.” Fast forward to the Gospel of this Sunday, our Lord Jesus, multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish. The Gospel of John, tells us that after the dialogue between our Lord and Philip over the insufficient food for the people, Jesus showed his divine power – a great symbol that he would eventually transform his Body and Blood into spiritual food and drink. John tells us that, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So, the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments leftover, so that nothing will be wasted.” In this narrative, we can see the unity of God the Father and God the Son in the reality of the bread, which is the prefiguration of the Holy Eucharist.
As Christians, the whole body of the Scripture must be understood comprehensively. The New Testament that gives account of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ on earth needs to be seen as the fulfillment of all the prophesies of the Old Testament. Therefore, when prophet Elisha gave command that the bread should be given to the people to eat, he showcased the foretaste of what Jesus will bring to completion at the Last Supper, which he accom-plishes on the Cross of Calvary – the last supper becomes the food of eternal journey, and the spread hands on the cross becomes the gift to all people. The above analysis, therefore, is very essential in order to appreciate the amazing love that God the Father has ordained for mankind from the beginning of time, which he made manifest in his only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father Uche Obikwelu