Sermon on Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

Sermon on Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

 (Delivered in Malayalam at St. Mary’s Church, Mannuthy)

Today is the sixth Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel text for
study and meditation comes from the Gospel according to Matthew 15: 32 to 39.
Once again it is a talk about food. The crowd was with Jesus for three days and
He had pity on them. But the disciples expressed helplessness. Of course they
can not be blamed. No one can ever even think of feeding that big a crowd of
several thousands. Then Jesus asked them what they had with them. They had only
seven loves of bread and few fishes. Jesus fed the crowd with that and left
over was seven baskets full!


A person who goes to the market to buy provisions for the
family will certainly look at his purse and wonder how can I buy all that we
need for the family with what I earn? This is our problem today. This text
talks to us about this issue. Recently, unlike on previous occasions, our
finance minister Mr. P. Chidambaram said the situation is very serious. Earlier
he used to say, ‘it is a temporary phenomenon and will not last long, every
thing is under control and the government is taking all steps to bring the
inflation down. Well they had been trying it for several weeks and now it has
crossed the double digit mark.


Some time back the government had what was called “National
Savings Program”. Now the situation is different, now we talk about “National
Borrowing Program”. We are not trying to feed ourselves with what we have, but
what we do not have and what we borrow. This culture slowly got in to the
system of individuals and families and if there comes any need we immediately
think of where can we borrow. Interestingly there are hundreds of money lending
agencies to help us out. So this has become part of our culture. For the
political administration there are World Bank, ADB, IMF etc. For common public
there are this and that bank and this and that financiers. They have their own
system of lending money and system of recovering it. Some of them recover from
living people and some from dead bodies.


Again there is the question of what are our needs? In the
text we read, the need was some thing basic. They were without food for three
days and badly in need of a simple meal. What are the reasons for us to borrow?
The governments borrow for infrastructure building. That means we can not find
our own resources to make our own roads and bridges, our own water supply
scheme and health care establishments and transportation facilities. So we
borrow. What are the reasons for the individuals to borrow? We borrow for
education of children, for building houses and for buying vehicles. But only
little is spent on the specified purpose; even if we spend, we spend not on
need basis but on luxury basis. We never ask the question Jesus asked, which is
“what do you have”? We never ask whether we can afford this luxury or not. Look
at the houses we build, it is the sum total of a life time earning.  Look at our vehicles; it is the symbol of our
pride. Look at our life style, it is affluence walking on foot. Look at our
clothing and ornaments; they are symbols of our pride. They are not out of what
we have; they are the result of what we borrowed. Even if we had money to buy
them, that money was not just for us to lead a lavish life mindless of millions
of people in and around us in our society.


During my childhood days we had to buy only few things from
provision shop like red chilly, salt, tea and sugar. Otherwise most of
vegetables, rice, chicken, egg and many more of what we needed for daily life
(even coffee), we produced in our back yard. So if some one had asked, ‘what do
you have’? We would have replied, most of what we need for our lives. We bought
them to the Church for auction. We also shared them with our neighbors and they
also did the same. But now in the post modern globalized world, we stand just like
the disciples did before Jesus, wondering how can we? Of course it is not
possible to produce so much in places like Mannuthy or Thrissur as they are
small cities and people do not have much land for agriculture (Of course there
are people who produce vegetable on roof top in soil filled sacks. But there is
a limit for that). But what if you try to live a life of Ambani brothers when
you do not have much resource? Only way is to borrow or steal (Crime in
Thrissur is in fast growth pace).  Life
is becoming more and more difficult to lead in this world. Because we adapted a
culture of living with what we do not have, rather what we borrowed or took
from others. This resulted in suicide of hundreds of farmers, business men and even
students causing so much misery to millions of people. This is because; we do
not eat of what we and our fellow beings have, rather of what we borrow or take
by force. The result is starvation and death. Borrowing will not work all the
time. Those lenders will start asking to return what was borrowed and then they
will stop giving. Of course there are people who think, they have enough
resource for their luxury. But they will also starve for different reason. Some
one who is putting up thirty six storied building in Mumbai to house his family
can not live a happy life with his widowed mother and brother. He is also
starving, because he was borrowing happiness and brotherhood from others with
his money.


What we have is to be shared among the whole community. It
is the responsibility of the leaders of the community to make a distribution
system (thanks to Nobel prize laureate Dr. Amarthya Sen) so that what they have
will be distributed among all members justly. Political leaders in
administration, community leaders and Church leaders in society have this
responsibility. But what do we do? On the one hand we eat most of what we have
and then in the name of charity we give little to others, or we do profit
making commercial business out of what we have (like what we are doing these
days with our educational and medical establishments). Then either we pass on
the responsibility of feeding the multitude to the government or say how can we
feed this many people. At the same time the leaders live a life of luxury and
affluence. But this life is at the expense of every member of the community.


These are days after Pentecost, the days of the renewing of
the Holy Spirit where we should be living in the guidance of the Spirit. We
need to learn to live and let others live with what little we have.