Homily for Ordinary Sunday 18B

In Uncategorized on August 2, 2009 at 11:26 am

St Michael and All Angels School
Founders Day 2009

Let me ask you a question:
Is it better to have found
or to have founded?

Words can sound nearly the same
but mean something quite different.

Is it better to be a finder or a founder?

One sort of person makes discoveries,
sees things that are there.

The other sort sees things are aren’t there yet,
and builds them.

I don’t know about you – and I like finding things –
but to make something yourself and to share it with others
is pretty special.

Today is our School Founders’ Day.
When we remember the people who 158 years ago
looked around and said “we need a school”.
And not just any school:
a very special school, part of the work and life of this church.

…I like to think of the difference between finding and founding
as a bit like the difference between fast food and good food you make yourself.

We all like fast food:
it doesn’t take much time to get it,
it tastes quite yummy.
But it’s not something that we have to work for,
and its not something that really builds us up.
Well, …it might make our tummies big if we eat too much,
but it doesn’t help us grow properly.
And, I don’t know if you’ve noticed,
but you go into a fast food takeaway,
and on the wall are all these wonderful pictures of the food.
And you order, and look at the picture,
and look forward to yours arriving,
but it’s always so much smaller and plainer-looking than the picture.
And I always feel a little bit disappointed at what I’ve found.

But good food, food we make ourselves,
that always seems to taste better than you expect.
Because you’ve been part of building it,
it satisfies even more.
Think of the wraps and sushi and pizza that we made last term.
That was food that was not only good to eat,
but it made us feel good too who made it.
That’s food that’s good for the body and the soul,
because it’s not just filling us up.
We’ve worked at it, and so it’s nourishing, feeding us, deep deep down.

Jesus says that he is the bread of life.
He is what feeds us deep down in our hearts and souls.
We meet him today in bread and wine
at this Table, where he feeds us.
Not just for one day when we find him here,
but for the rest of our lives,
every day growing and building and being nourished by Jesus.

The founders of our school knew that.
They built and they worked not just for today, for the fast food market,
but for the nourishment of our minds and bodies and souls,
and for those who will come after us.

So today we say thank you
for the gift of S. Michael’s School and Church.

Turning to the older demographic here present:

To understand the gospel we’ve heard today,
you need to know that this is the day after Jesus feeds the 5000.
After five loaves and two fish
are somehow enough for a vast crowd of people.

The idea of what is “enough” is a tantalising one
and a rather foreign concept to our age.
How can you have enough?
All our lives we’re bombarded with the idea we need more,
and are somehow inadequate.

St Ignatius, on the other hand, wrote at the turn of the second Century:
“Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given”.

But, here is the crowd,
looking it seems for a sequel to yesterday’s miracle.
Wanting – like the Israelites wandering in the desert –
to stagger from one miracle to another,
manna from heaven.

Not really sure they’re ready to trust this God,
but knowing that they surely need food and water.
Seeing extraordinary things happening around them,
but failing to see beyond the things themselves.
Marvelling at the microchip
but failing to see the extraordinary universe that has made it all possible.

What God offered the Israelites,
in the face of their lack of confidence in the divine direction,
in the face of their nostalgia for Egypt and the perverse certainties of slavery
– if you know the story – it’s a very simple lesson in trust and radical economics:
Enough food, enough manna from heaven, for each day, for each person.
Jesus would teach his disciples, then and now,
to pray that we might be given bread enough for the day.
In the middle of recession and all its attendant scares,
maybe that might give us food for thought

Back to the gospel.  The crowd asking Jesus questions.
They already know the answer they want
– a miraculous breakfast, the satisfaction of fast food.

The kind of theology and dialogue with God
that fills a gap, but hardly nourishes.
Pre-packaged, brightly coloured, undemanding.
High on things we crave,
things, though, that may turn out to be less-than-good for us.

Hunger is a sign.  We know this:
it’s our body signalling that we need substance and sustenance.

Our gospel reading this day seems to call us to be attentive to our hunger.
Hunger for food, hunger for security, for possessions, for God.
It seems to call us not to fall into that easy trap
of looking for the kind of food that’s all packaging and gimmick.
The flashy food we all too often think we want,
that mostly fails to satisfy.

What if we were to pay attention to the hunger,
to the rumbling emptinesses of our age and ourselves?

St Michael’s Church and School were both founded
with the intention that they might nourish a new city.
We continue to grow in that.
Not looking for the hollow calories of the hamburger,
but the true food of faith and learning
that equips us to feed others also.


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