How much? Too much!

He said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.

I am so thankful that we have joined together in worship this Sunday.

St. Basil the Great wrote a homily of about thirty pages in seven sections on today’s gospel. St. Basil took the time and the effort because the issue of social justice and equitable distribution was not just important to him, but was much more so, important to God.

Basil famously wrote: Now, someone who takes a man who is clothed and renders him naked would be termed a robber; but when someone fails to clothe the naked, while he is able to do this, is such a man deserving of any other appellation? The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear mouldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes. The silver that you keep hidden in a safe place belongs to the one in need. Thus, however many are those whom you could have provided for, so many are those whom you wrong.

Basil saw the accumulation of things as theft. If one takes and stores up more than what is necessary one is stealing from those in need. 

Basil also saw the provision of earthly goods as a test. He recalled that Saintly Job had a lot. The question, What would happen when it was all taken? Scripture tells us that throughout his suffering and loss Job never lost faith, never rejected God. 

The harder temptation is to have much. Having much, over abundance, is a test as well. The question, What would happen if we have much and more again? The rich man in the parable is not judged until his riches and stuff become his faith. The rich man relies only on himself so his life is demanded of him.

In Basil’s diocese of Caesarea, he created the Basilidad. It was a community of prayer that saw to the needs of the sick and dying, the starving and naked. Those who worked there, ordinary people and religious, gave up that extra coat, those shoes in the closet, the bread, and the silver to do God’s work. They shared what they had equitably. Others saw it and gave generously. We have an abundantly generous family here. We are a mini-Basilidad in seeing to the needs of our community and that is why we are blessed.

Yet, we must always be careful and aware of the test. Let’s try an experiment. Let us look at our closets – do we need extra storage space (larger barns). Try to count every article of clothing we have. How many days could we go without needing to do laundry? If our conscience calls to us, let us do what we can help another with what we have in abundance.

Are we
hungry enough?

They all ate and were satisfied.

Last week, we discussed the hungry Jesus and His chief hunger, unity of life with the Father and Spirit and our participation in that reality, that meal where love is perfected. It is the meal to which We have gained access. We were left with the question: Are we hungry? Are we hungry enough to participate in God’s life?

Today we continue the celebration that began this past Thursday, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Holy Church sets aside special Octaves, eight days of celebration that follow special moments in our collective faith life. We celebrate Octaves after Christmas, the Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi. You have to love a Church that focuses on celebrating!

Today’s Gospel tells us that crowd ate and were satisfied. Now we’ve all had plenty of meals where we ate, and remained unsatisfied, perhaps even disappointed.  Yet, when Jesus feeds us we find only satisfaction. The Gospel goes on to tell us that the leftovers filled twelve baskets– in other words, Jesus feeding us leads to an overflowing abundance.

Sunday, in the Octave, is a great moment to reflect. Do we really believe this? Does receiving this bread and wine really make us whole and satisfied? Does this activity, have any real meaning and reality? Do we have any overflowing abundance coming from this feeding? Are Jesus’ promises real?

Father, what are you saying? You’re confusing me. I’ve said that myself to people who called me to express what I really believed.

That is the question, not whether I am confusing you, but taking this very important moment, this eight-day period, and the rest of our lives to come to terms with what we really believe of God’s reality. We can read words – This is my Body. This is My blood. Do this… but reading alone will not move us from disbelief and unbelief and going-through-the-motions, to full faith and overflowing abundance.

If we do anything, as we meet the reality of Jesus’ Body and Blood today, as He passes us in procession, let us make an absolute affirmation of true faith and belief. Let us say and believe: He is here, and I am hungry for Him. Let us eat and be satisfied. Then with that realization of faith, come to see all His promises fulfilled in our lives to overflowing.