The Orthodox prosperity gospel.

Homily 318 – 8th after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
July 22, 2018
Epistle: (124) 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Gospel: (58) Matthew 14:14-22

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

When thinking of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, we often marvel at the miracle our Lord wrought. Looking a bit deeper, there are some other significant cues that can give us a sense of direction in our own life, and our own behavior.

St. Matthew sets it up by telling us the crowds, after hearing of the beheading of John the Baptist, followed Christ into the desert place. Jesus left the area – a bit of a warning to us to not be foolish in placing ourselves in danger unnecessarily.

And the crowds follow – a sign of their faith in Christ. A faith strong enough to defy the authorities.

Evening comes – time for the meal, and everyone is out in the desert with nothing. And the disciples tell Christ – we have nothing.

Christ knows this already. His miracles come through our weakness and poverty, not out of abundance. Healing through Christ is portrayed in most places in the Gospels as a “last resort” – when all other options were exhausted.

God’s strength shows in our weakness, and our poverty.

So, Christ tells them – bring me what you have. Five loaves and two fish. Barely enough to feed the Apostles, much less the Disciples and the multitudes.

Christ blesses the food. What happens here is strikingly parallel to the offering we also make this morning.

Christ tells us to offer what we have – bread and wine – and we ask Him to bless it – through the invocation of the Holy Spirit. And in so doing, our offering is also multiplied.

Enough for everyone, with some left over. Abundance.

Blessed Theophylact in his commentary on this passage points out that Jesus leaves the comforts of the city, reclines on the open ground in the desert, gives thanks, and feeds the multitudes.

Far away from the comforts of our homes, our support systems, our visible means of support.

And if Jesus does it – well, we’re supposed to emulate Him, aren’t we?

Many of us stay in our comfort zones, refusing to recognize that it is God who supports us, not ourselves. We are not self-sufficient.

Life itself is provided by God.

The Apostles, and a significant portion of the Disciples, left their homes, their families, their means of support, and followed Christ.

Out of their poverty, they gave in abundance, like the widow’s mites into the treasury of the Temple.

Christ multiplied that for the benefit of all.

Here’s an area where the prosperity gospel preachers missed the boat, and didn’t go with the multitudes into the desert.

When we give, Christ does not direct the abundance only to us.

He expects it to feed everyone. And, after everyone is fed, we then recognize the abundance that is the leftovers from God’s table.

This is not the way of the world, by the way. The way of our world is to grab all we can and hoard it if we can. The objective of the world is not that we take care of ourselves.

So many people have wealth for themselves and for several generations to come.

The objective of the world is that we grab all we can so we can deny that abundance to others.

We fence in our yards to keep people out. People in big cities that don’t have yards understand the value of parks. And the value of sharing. Why do you need a yard when you have Central Park at your disposal?

But just like we all learned in Kindergarten and preschool. We have to share.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all of us go out and sell our homes and give everything to the poor and live by faith alone. Some are called to that life. Most of us here are not.

We are called to share everything we have – to give our excess, our abundance – so that others around us may also be given God’s blessings by our hands.

Set your mind today to re-evaluate your priorities, and focus on being generous – sharing. It is through our generosity that abundance happens for everyone.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!