THE POWER OF LESS

July 25, 2021 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/072521.cfm)

Our gospel today is surely something familiar and already known to us all. How could we miss one of the best stories of Jesus’ miracles ever told?  All four gospel evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) have each own version of the story of this miracle. However one call this miracle-story – whether as “the multiplication of loaves & fishes”, or “the feeding of the multitude, these unique versions & diverse interpretations share the same plot.

Basically it is about Jesus & His disciples with crowds of people gathered & now stranded in a far-distant mountain field, perhaps already during midday. Concerned about the people, Jesus ask his disciples for resources to tend & feed these multitude of people. With the less food-resources that they can collect & muster, Jesus instructed the disciples to organize people into small groups, took & blessed the less that they got, and have it broken & shared to the groups. People began to share what they got & have to each other, that in effect, had each other & one-another fed. And eventually made all filled & satisfied, and even able to garner twelve basketful of left-overs. Crisis-solved. Five thousand men (perhaps including or excluding women & children) were fed. A miracle happens. All are happy. Jesus saves the day.

Perhaps there is more to the story than we may realize. Somehow the story have more lessons now to teach us than it has taught us before & always. Perhaps, we can learn here something about the Power of Less.

What can Less do to All? What & how can the only Less we can have contribute for many (if not for all)? Ano at Paano ang magagawa ng kakaunti para sa karamihan at kalahatan? We may have something, but how it can help all? Like the man in our first reading, we also raised the practical question: “How can I set this (20 barley loaves & fresh grain) set up for a hundred people?” And somehow like the disciples, common sense tells us that “200 days’ wages worth of food is not enough for each of them to have a little.” And somehow in our pandemic times, we ponder: What & how can my little inconveniences (like wearing mask, face shield, quarantine, social distancing, or vaccine) can contribute in healing our infected & life-threatening world?

Somehow our condition and reality of LESS may bring us to these realizations.

First, with less resources, we come to grip with our vulnerability. Suddenly, we come to experience how poor, fragile, limited, dependent & needy we are & we can  be. When we get what we want & have what we need – Fast, easy, accessible, instant & convenient life gives  us an illusion of power, independence & invulnerability in life. But when resources are scarce & abilities are limited, we are humbled to realize our own poverty & neediness.

With such humility, second, we begin to be thankful & to make the best of what we already have. We become “madiskarte sa buhay”. We learn to cope & live with what less resources we have. We get to know what is enough from what is too much. We know now what is essential & important things in life as well as what we can live & do without. In other words, with less, we become resilient as well as resourceful.

Third, with less, we are moved to feel with & feel for one another. As we become conscious of our own poverty & our little resources, we come to empathize & sympathize with one another, and we try to help & contribute what little we have with others. In our gospel, Jesus did not only make a miracle of feeding the people. He also makes an example & witness of sharing the little we have with others. What meant to be a relief operation of feeding the people, now turned-out to be an agape, salu-salo because what they have received & got is also shared with others & one another. Less makes us kind & compassionate with one another.

And yet still, fourth, less makes us rely on the help of others & trust in God’s mercy. In our poverty & humility, we come to realize that without God, we can do nothing. On our own we cannot live. We need God & each other to be & live in a much better & meaningful life.

LESS can be powerful. It can humbly render us poor, bring us to resiliency & resourcefulness, make us kind & compassionate to share with others, and above all, impels us to rely & trust in God and one another. Though not much, LESS can make a BIG DIFFERENCE in life.

Perhaps some of us are familiar with the 2007 comedy movie entitled: “Evan Almighty”. It is about a TV-anchorman turned politician Evan Baxter, not unlike Noah, inspired by God, built a big ARK to fulfill his promise campaign to change the world. The story-line evolved around how spectacular & comedic it is to literally build an ark in these modern times in order to change & save our world. Perhaps a primitive & crazy solution for our complicated world. At the end, Evan’s ARK may have saved his city (animals & people) from landslide & flooding. But he realized that what God meant for Evan to build an Ark is not literally a big physical structure of an ark, but as an acronym A.R.K., which means Acts of Random Kindness.

ARK can change the world. Our little Acts of Random Kindness can make a Big difference. Less can change our world for the better.  With LESS, God can be & we can be.

Take, Lord, the little resources we have. Bless & share these to others, as we are also needy of their help & of our Father’s mercy. Let these be our small contribution & acts of random kindness that we may have a share of our agape in God’s kingdom now & always.

So Help us God, So may it Be. Amen.

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