Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Devotional Thoughts Based on Luke 9:10-17

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

by Rev. Fr. Dr. Mathew C. Chacko

The devotion is based on the Gospel of Luke 9: 10-17

Preach the Kingdom of God, Heal the sick, Feed the hungry and Participate in the Holy Eucharist: Do These Aspects of Jesus' Ministry speak to us today?

He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, And healed those who needed healing. [Verse 11] Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. [Verse 16] They all ate and were satisfied and the disciples picked up Twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. [Verse 17]

In the context of the Mission emphasis of the Liturgical Season after Pentecost, today's Gospel reading brings out several aspects of the ministry of Jesus and thereby our missionary tasks are defined and emphasized.

Teaching ministry and healing ministry preceded the feeding ministry here. After the disciples returned from a preaching, healing and feeding ministry perhaps, people came in search of Jesus, thousands of them. He did teach them the mysteries of the kingdom of God and how they could enter therein, and healed several people of body mind and spiritual diseases. Having perceived the lateness of the time and the unavailability of food for the crowd that came seeking him, Jesus commanded the disciples to feed them.

"Soap, soup, salvation" a short description of the evangelistic method of Western Missionaries in India in the 19th century, resembles the pattern of ministry of Jesus that we see here. Though the preaching of the Gospel seems to be last on their agenda, it is sure that missionaries of the caliber of Dr. Ida Skudder of Vellore, India commands any one's respect and admiration, no matter how the procedure was organized. The Ministry of Jesus, in their terms, could be described as "Salvation, soap and soup."

St. Ambrose wrote: "The Kingdom of God comes as the Messiah teaches, heals and feeds his people." About the bread that Jesus gives, Ambrose wrote, is the Word of God that grows mystically in the way that the water becomes wine at the Wedding of Cana. He goes on to say that "The miraculous food of loaves and fish multiplied for thousands will give way to the stronger food of Christ, his body and blood. This feeding miracle is a foretaste of the satisfaction of the Church at the Lord's table and at the heavenly banquet."

The question I would like to raise for our consideration is "How are we doing in these areas as we minister to men and women inside or outside the Church?

The ultimate goal of mission seems to lead people to the participation in the Eucharistic meal, partaking of the life-giving Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. All preaching/teaching, healing and compassionate deeds should be towards the Eucharistic table.

Is this message acceptable to us? Even with the encouragement of "free and unconditional absolution," our people are reluctant to participate from the Table of the Lord every Sunday. Have you ever seen a priest or bishop not participating from the Eucharistic Table when he serves? But I have seen hundreds of people walking away without being fed from the Table where the Lord gives Himself!

If the priest or bishop is "worthy" to participate from the Table every time he presides over the Eucharistic assembly, why not laity - from "laos" Greek word means the "people of God" consider themselves less worthy? In fact, none is holy except the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Father, and the Holy Son and the Holy Spirit is with us, we are bold to draw near the Holy Altar humbly and with confidence.

We as parishes, Dioceses and the Church as a whole have to take these essential aspects of the ministry of Jesus -Teaching, Healing, Feeding and the Eucharist seriously. These are important for our inner mission as well as for our external missionary activities. Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All of Albania writes "In many societies now where an atheistic influence prevails, we have to be a witness (in Greek "Martyria", to invite to the Church people who do not have faith. However, spiritual edification within the Church (inner mission) is not exactly missionary effort. Missionary effort is about having the vocation to bring into the Church that which is outside the Church." {SYNDESMOS NEWS}

Inner mission and external mission are two wings we need to fly with. As we grow together and mature in our love and service to Christ and His Church we will reach out to people around us with the teaching of the Kingdom of God, healing and feeding ministries, so that we may prepare a people who would come and seek the Bread of Life. May God in His mercy guide us to this goal!

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost

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