“Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it; you just do it.” – Mother Angelica (1923 – 2016: Franciscan nun best known as a television personality and the founder of both the internationally-broadcast cable television network Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and the radio network WEWN)
Gospel Text: (JN 6:1-15)
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
This story speaks powerfully to disciples of Jesus today who often find themselves in situations exactly like this one. Service to others often leaves us feeling like Jesus’ disciples 2000 years ago trying to feed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish: there are so many people, so many needs, so many things to get done. How can we minister to these people? Perhaps you see a problem in your community that needs to be addressed but it is simply so much larger than anything you could personally handle. What does Jesus say to us? You give them something to eat, you take care of them, you handle it. And our response is, This is impossible. We do not have what it takes to minister to these people. So Jesus asks, What do you have? First, it is always good to realize that problems we tackle are bigger than us and that we cannot handle them on our own or even if we got a couple hundred other people to help us. We just do not have what it takes to solve the problem. On the other hand, Jesus wants to know what we DO have and it is good for us to answer that question, too. Frankly, it often looks like five loaves and two fish in the face of five thousand hungry people.
Yet, I give what little I have into the hands of Jesus and he blesses it, gives thanks for it, multiplies it and then gives it back to me. And miraculous things happen. People get ministered to, communities see change, the downtrodden are lifted up – all eat their fill and are satisfied.