Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We get the miracle of the loaves & fishes today.

First up is a mighty interesting reading from Second Kings. A man brings to Elisha twenty barley loaves, and Elisha says to give it to the people to eat, despite the man’s protests that it’s not nearly enough for the hundred people. But Elisha insists that, and indeed there is, enough and then some. There’s some left over after they have eaten.

This of course prefigures pretty much the same scene in the Gospel. Or, actually, Gospels. We hear today from St. John, but it’s in all four Gospels, apparently the only miracle recounted in all four. (It also seems to be in St. Mark and St. Matthew twice each.) And even though it’s Year B, with lots of readings from St. Mark. And despite the fact that this miracle is in St. Mark. And despite the fact that we kinda left off last week, with Christ moved with pity by the crowd, a sheep without a shepherd, in St. Mark, and then this miracle is recounted immediately thereafter. But, still, we switch to St. John.

I’ve mentioned before what a big fan I am of the readings when they can tie Old Testament to New Testament. This is a classic example. Although St. Paul is really off message in his epistle. No loaves, no fishes. Although he specifically counsels humility, patience, and gentleness, traits I’ve been sorely lacking recently. Paul wags his finger a lot, but oh sometimes I sure do need it.

Deacon Rice reads the Gospel from the high pulpit, so we know that he’s going to give the homily as well. And it’s a satisfying sort of one for me, with the idea that we produce quite enough food in this world to feed everyone, (thirty-five hundred calories a day for everyone, says he). Problem of course is distribution, with getting it to those who are in need. It’s not the fault of this beautiful bounty that the Lord provides for us, it’s our system, or systems, that are at fault. It’s us.

And this of course makes me think of the collapse of the Doha round this week. All due to the agricultural subsidies. And the US blames the EU and the EU blames the US. And in the meantime people in the developing world are starving, subsistence farmers can’t even subsist. Although some quarters are cheering the collapse, thinking that the rich countries will game the system no matter what, that despite the stated purpose of making things fairer for developing countries, things would just get worse under Doha. I plead ignorance as usual as to the subtleties of trade policy, but note that it’s of course a truism that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The rich will always win, will always run the table, and maybe even steal your wallet while you’re not looking.

3 thoughts on “Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

  1. There was a very interesting article in the NYT this past weekend, tracking the health records of thousands of American Civil War veterans, then comparing those men with some of their modern descendents. The men of the 1860s were often crippled by disease and bad nutrition in their 40s, and didn’t expect to live much longer. In comparison, their modern kinfolk are uniformly taller and much more robust, with a life expectancy of maybe 20+ more years.

    All of this surprised me. I guess I’ve had a romantic notion that those people who lived in the 19th century lived in an agrarian society, therefore they ate healthier food (no processed sugars and fats). The reality was quite different. They worked very, very hard, and they had no grocery stores, so most people had nothing like a balanced diet. Think about that the next time you travel to the grocery store. The things we take for granted.

    My dad’s paternal grandfather, W.G. Kennedy, was a Confederate veteran who was born in 1944. Surprisingly, he lived until my dad was an infant, dying around 1929. I guess his side of the family were tough old birds. Hopefully that means I’ll live a long time, too, especially if I take advantage of the advantages I’ve got — i.e., eat more fruits and vegetables.

    Maybe the poor people of the world, the substinence farmers, live lives similar to those of the American agricultural poor of the 19th and early to mid 20th centuries.

    Corrupt governments in Africa and elsewhere have always been a problem, stealing and hoarding food shipments for themselves and thier armies. It’s a terrible problem. I don’t know how anyone can fix it.

    Today I bagged my own lunch, which consisted of a turkey sandwich, a fresh apple and a sprig of grapes. When I think about it, I have little reason to get down about stuff. I am lucky indeed.

  2. Addendum: I named the wrong relative. The Confederate soldier in question was William Odil Cain, who went by the initials W.O. I have his porcelain shaving mug at home. W.G. Kennedy was my paternal grandmother’s maternal grandfather. Got that?

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