17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): He Always Feeds His Sheep
(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
Last week we heard about Jesus teaching the great crowd of people who need a shepherd to give them everything they need. We know he loves to teach people about the Kingdom of God. When people hear him, they always want to who he is. They know his name is Jesus, but they want to know more. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus shows them who he is.
When Jesus looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”
Why does Jesus ask about bread? He must know that the people are hungry. He must also know that they do not have food of their own. Jesus knows what they need, and he wants to feed them.
But Philip, one of Jesus' friends, sees a problem.
Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
Wages are money. Philip tells Jesus that it would cost too much money to feed this great crowd of people. They do not have enough. The people are hungry, Jesus wants to feed them, but there is not enough money to buy food. This seems to be a problem.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
One little boy has 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. So there is a little bit of food. A very little bit. Andrew thinks this is a problem. A little bit of food will not feed a whole crowd of people. There is not enough. They do not have everything they need.
But Jesus does not see a problem.
Jesus knows something about the Kingdom of God and things that are very little.
Jesus knows what we know:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need."
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.
Now wait a minute! This sounds a lot like "the Lord is my shepherd" again. "He makes me lie down in green grass." Is Jesus going to feed the people grass???
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
Everyone gets bread, and everyone gets fish. Everyone is fed and no one is hungry. Everyone who has come to Jesus has everything he or she needs.
When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
First there was only a very little, now there are leftovers! First there was not enough, now there is even more than enough! This is called abundance--more than enough for everyone.
the people saw the sign that he had done
When the people see the abundance,
when they see something so small become something so great,
they know that they have seen a sign.
What has happened? What have they seen?
They were hungry and now they are fed.
They were made to sit down in fields of green grass.
They have everything they need.
They have seen the Lord is my shepherd.
Now they know. The Good Shepherd always feeds his sheep.
We can wonder, how does the Good Shepherd feed his sheep today?