5 August 2018
18th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B
•• Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15 •• Psalm 78 •• Ephesians 4:17,20-204 •• + John 6:24-35 ••
Title: Warning. Word. Way Out.
[_01] US Airways Flight 1549 was an Airbus, which took off from NYC LGA on January 15, 2009, struck a flock of Canada geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge and consequently lost all engine power. Unable to reach any airport, pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles glided the plane to a ditching in the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan. All 155 people aboard were rescued by nearby boats and there were few serious injuries.
The accident came to be known as the "Miracle on the Hudson", & NTSB official described it as "the most successful ditching in aviation history." The Board rejected the notion that the pilot could have avoided ditching by returning to LaGuardia or diverting to nearby Teterboro Airport.
The pilots and flight attendants were awarded the Master's Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in recognition of their "heroic and unique aviation achievement".
[__02__] I’d like to suggest a parallel between this miracle – and its answered prayers – and the multiplication of the loaves …and our own lives.
In the MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON, there was a WARNING, there were WORDS, and there was a WAY OUT.
WARNING. WORDS. WAY OUT.
[__03__] WARNING. Danger, the engines had failed and it’s possible that the passengers could sense this as the pilots did.
After the WARNING, there were WORDS, words communicated surely by the famous Sully or Captain Sullenberger about safety, about teamwork, about precaution. He had to communicate the truth but in a clear and hopeful manner.
[__04__] And, even after landing, there had to be a WAY OUT of this plane, of USAir flight 1549, which was now afloat on a cold Hudson River in January.
The WAY OUT was made possible not only by the flight crew but also by several ferry boat captains and crews who motored to the plane and took every single passenger. Prayers answered.
[__05__] Now, you might say that the USAIR Flight was not a “miracle” because every single step could be documented, explained, recorded, transcribed. It was momentous, but maybe not miraculous.
It also took a great deal of effort and risk taking.
We may not associate the completion of a “miracle” with a risk. We want the miracle to eliminate risk.
[__06__] But, in the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus is taking a risk and asking his disciples also to take a risk.
To these people – the people on the hillside who were hungry – there was a WARNING in their hunger. If Jesus did not do something, they might leave, he might not connect with them or.
So, there is a risk in giving the people what they want.
And, in fact, Jesus experienced the down side of this . After the miracle – in last Sunday’s Gospel – they want to give Jesus also a commendation or a medal. “They want to carry him off and make him king.”
And, yet, Jesus does not to be their king … at least not based on this criteria or conditions.
[__07__] Miracles and spectacular achievements cause us to take notice.
If there is a warning or someone has a word or a WAY OUT, we want naturally to follow that person.
But, Jesus is not performing the miracle to eliminate all dangers, all sins, and all potential injury from our lives.
Yes, he wants to give us a WAY OUT, but not always the WAY OUT that we have predefined or preordained.
I’m sure there were a few people on Flight 1549 who would have preferred to land at LGA or Teterboro. But, this was not the WAY OUT.
There are times when we are asked to REPENT, to SACRIFICE, to ACCEPT DIFFICULTY … and to do so under conditions that seem so unlikely and so beyond our own power.
Yet, we persevere. We are called to persevere.
The WAY OUT is miraculous. God’s ways are not our ways.
[__08__] This Sunday, Jesus is reminding us not simply to seek the FOOD or the FANTASTIC VOYAGE or the FANTASY that will perish.
Jesus, by feeding the crowd in the multiplication of the loaves is trying to give them a WAY OUT, but the WAY OUT is not simply to consume more but rather to CONNECT with Him more, to connect with God as the source of our nourishment, through his bounty, at the table or away from the table. Amen. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. He is our way out and our way forward.