“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”― Mother Teresa: (1910 – 1997: Catholic nun from Kolkata)
Gospel Text: (MT 14:13-21)
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me,”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.
“Send them away,” the disciples tell Jesus. “Send them back home, back to their villages so they can find food. We can’t handle all this need.”
The disciples weren’t being selfish or unkind, hateful or unloving. In fact, to their minds, sending this hungry multitude away was the most compassionate thing they could do. It kept people from going hungry in the middle of nowhere.
The disciples weren’t necessarily wrong to suggest it either. If we had a church function for that many people and no food, you better believe we would send folks home before sundown.
“Send them away,” they say.
But Jesus replies, “No, you give them something to eat.”
“But we only have five loaves and two fish,” they protest.
When the disciples looked out at the multitude and at their resources, the disciples saw only scarcity — what they lacked — and they responded with the only rational solution they could conceive. Too often we see the world this way, through a lens of scarcity, a lens that fears we might not have enough or might have what is rightfully ours taken from us. Whether that’s our food, our security, our stuff; our comfort, our complacency, our critical distance from those hungry people.
And we respond with what we assume is compassion.
People experiencing hunger and homelessness? Send them away.
People decorated with full-color tattoos and unconventional piercings? Send them away.
People who don’t vote like us? Send them away.
People who are gay or lesbian? Send them away.
People who live in Gaza? Send them away with the thunder of war.
Refugee children fleeing Central America?
Send them away.
Send them away.
Send them away.
Don't wait until we have all the human means, don't wait till all difficulties disappear. On the supernatural plane there is always fruit: Our Lord sees that; He blesses our efforts and He multiplies them.